Life

We Need To Stop Thinking Of Rejection As Failure

Rejection, in its many forms, is a necessary part of life. No matter what you’re trying to achieve, you’re going to be knocked back in one way or another. It sucks. But if you have a solid coping mechanism to deal with it, it doesn’t have to.

It’s surprisingly easy to deal with rejection if you change the way you think about it. Trust us.

The Stars Didn’t Align 

There are seven billion people out there — millions of them with the same dreams, ambitions and skills as you. That may seem intimidating, but it’s a good way to think about how insignificant getting knocked back really is. Millions of dreams are out there, waiting to be fulfilled. And all of these dreams can’t be realised at exactly the same time, in the same way.

Everything is a series of contingencies — a combination of compatibility, company values, experience, and personality go into how people make their decisions. That means there’s a very specific mould you’d need to fit for an opportunity to pan out.

And that’s all rejection is, really: a series of contingencies that didn’t line up in this isolated instance. Thinking this way helps to conceptualise rejection as nothing more than bad timing, which it really is.

Plus, rejection on their side means you’re not best suited to the opportunity anyway, so chances are you wouldn’t have necessarily thrived if you were accepted in the first place.

An Opportunity For Resilience 

As corny as it sounds, getting turned down from an opportunity is an opportunity in itself. Rejection can serve as a valuable tool for self improvement. Realising what you may be doing wrong can make the next attempt that much sharper.

Plus, it may even mean an opportunity to turn a no into a yes. In his TED Talk, Jia Jiang explains his journey of rejection therapy, wherein he willingly exposed himself to situations of rejection for 100 days. One of his pearls of wisdom is, “If I got rejected, I could actually turn a no into a yes, and the magic word is ‘why?'” Showing some resilience in the face of your rejection may end up playing in your favour.

Kim Liao has a similar approach. In her essay for LitHub, she explains why she collects rejections, rather than strives for wins. Perhaps aiming for rejection, a far more attainable goal, would take some of the sting out of this ego-bruising exercise—which so often feels like an exercise in futility,” she wrote.

You’re Still Awesome

When you get enough of them, it starts to become clear that rejection has nothing to do with you as a person, or your own skills. Rejection, in and of itself, has no bearing on your quality or skill. What really determines your character, and what you’re more likely to be asked in job interviews, is how you deal with it.

By reshaping your mindset of rejection you can stand on top of obstacles, rather than get buried by them.

It’s important to keep in mind that getting turned down does not mean you’re any less capable or skilled than the people who got accepted. You’re still awesome, and there’s an opportunity out there with your name on it. 

Anything worth having is going to be littered with rejections, obstacles and setbacks. What you can change however, is your perspective of these things. By reshaping your mindset of rejection you can stand on top of obstacles, rather than get buried by them.