What I’ve Learned About Rejection

Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston, SC

Guys, I’ve been rejected.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Rejection is a fact of life, and it’s happened over and over to all of us.

Sure, a certain guy I had my eye on wasn’t interested. But also, I didn’t make varsity. I didn’t get the lead part. I didn’t get that job or that promotion.

(I did earn the title of “Most Improved Player” during sophomore year on the volleyball team… although that kinda seemed like a backhanded compliment.)

It sucks to go in for the kiss and be shrugged off. Or to put yourself in a position of emotional vulnerability and have it crash and burn. It’s always extremely disappointing to invest your time and your energy and your thoughts in someone or something that doesn’t pan out.

The gut reaction is to turn inwards. What did I do wrong? How did I misread this? Am I not good/pretty/skinny/strong/smart/experienced/whatever enough? How come I’m not what this person is looking for? (All things that have run through my head at any given point.)

But that’s not constructive thinking. And I’m going to use a career-related example to illustrate this. I’ve interviewed a lot of people over the last few years. There have been times that I interviewed people who were just poor candidates, and, yeah, no call-back. And there have been times that I interviewed people who were great, and I was interested. I was steps away from offering them a position, when something else happened. I had no choice. I wanted to move forward with these candidates, but I had external forces tying my hands. They did everything right; I just couldn’t move forward.

Sometimes the timing is not right. Sometimes an external force is playing a role; or someone’s preferences or expectations have a hand in their choice. And sometimes it’s just not a match. And that’s not ON YOU.

In any case, rejection is delivered by this person based on their reaction or their (right or wrong) assessment of you. It’s not you or your fault.

Anyway, back to me. Once I get over the initial bewilderment or embarrassment, and steer myself away from inward-blame, I actually feel relief. Now I know. I can redirect my energy elsewhere. And usually, I’m glad that I put it out there — because being direct and vulnerable becomes an unintentional fork in the road. You get your answer and get to go on your way, instead of having to wallow in an uncertain future.

Rejection is nothing new, and nobody has a perfect batting average when it comes to life. Don’t take it too hard — rejection can actually be GREAT for you.

Now, you’re available for the other thing that’s a better fit.

Spoiler alert: It always works out.

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