Rejection is like the friend no one ever wants to invite out because they either bring everyone down or they make everyone viciously angry. So we keep them at bay. But then the party of the year comes and they somehow manage to crash it. They have a grand ole time and somehow we’re left in the tracks of our own tears. Probably not alone when I say no one wants to be BFFs with rejection.
My earliest memories of rejection stem from my relationship with my father. When I look back, I wish I could say that my mind wreaks of more fond memories with him. But sadly, I can’t. My father was not around as much as he could or should have been. Thinking back, there were many times he said he was going to call, visit, or take me out so we could spend quality time together and nothing ever transpired. My mother and I heard a whirlwind of excuses. So many promises, all empty and broken.
One particular time, my father had seemingly gone out of his way to plan to stop by so we could hang out. I believe I was in the eleventh grade at the time and we were off from school. I was excited because it had been some time since I’d last seen or heard from him. So on this particular day, I got ready and waited. Waited. And waited. One hour, two hours, three hours go by, and my father still hasn’t shown up. I’m calling and calling. No answer. There I was, disappointed, rejected… Sitting by the window, crying, hoping that my father wouldn’t leave me hanging like this (again).
He never came. Another empty, broken promise. More excuses. It was a record I’d heard all my life and I wanted its opportunities for airplay revoked forever. From that day forward I vowed that that would be the last time I would be left crying—sitting, waiting by the window or the phone for my father (or anyone for that matter).
I’d be lying if I said this didn’t have any long-lasting impact on my life. The rejection I felt from my father made me feel as if I was to blame… That I wasn’t good enough or deserving. From this stemmed many of my insecurities, self-doubt, low self-esteem, confidence, my shyness, and my inability to let down my guard and trust. After a certain age, I realized I was allowing it to hold me back from truly being me and going after what I wanted. I also realized I was angry with my father, his not being around… And I was angry with myself for being affected by it for so long. But I had to let it go. I had to realize that I was not to blame for whatever my father was going through. He has his reasons for why he wasn’t there. He made his choices and he has to deal with them. I cannot hold myself responsible for his actions or others, especially when these actions don’t stem from me. I had to forgive and move on.
I’ve experienced rejection in a variety of other areas of life—love, relationships, work, school, and with many of my personal and professional interests. Sometimes it didn’t phase me. Others, the pain from rejection was damn near debilitating. In the past year, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard “NO” after going after various opportunities. But “YES” was never too far behind.
Rejection is just as normal an occurrence as sunlight in the morning and moonlight at night. It’s inescapable. It’s unavoidable. It’s timing is impeccable. And while there’s nothing we can do to block its way, there’s plenty we can do to avoid its lingering effects.
- Never lose sight of who you are. No matter what happens or what anyone says, you must know who you are. You must remain true to yourself and be steadfast in your convictions. Be strong. Be confident. Trust, know, and believe that you are good enough.
- Learn from rejection. When rejection occurs, take a moment to look back at the situation and see if there are any takeaways. Is there anything you can apply moving forward? Were you really up on your game as much as you could’ve been? Did you really give it your all or were you going with the motions? Whatever you discover, do not beat yourself up about it.
- Do not give up. Don’t allow rejection to ruin your course of action. If you set out to achieve something, stick with it until it comes into fruition. You’ve invested too much into yourself and your dreams to give up midstream. If you don’t try, if you don’t continue with your pursuits—you’ll never know the outcome.
- Find ways to keep yourself inspired. The path to your dreams is one that will be filled with tremendous upheaval. It won’t be easy. There are moments when your faith or belief may be tested—and it may wane. If you can look to the many things in your life that get you hype, that build your optimism, and that constantly rehabilitate your faith and beliefs—you will push through.
- Always look to better yourself. When opportunities arise to increase your aptitude, jump at them (as long as they’re feasible). You may be really good or great where you are in your life, but you can always take it to the next level. Look to those who’re doing things you’d like to do and see what you can learn from their experiences. If you so choose, reach out to them. You just might find a mentor. But it’s crucial that you’re ready when they call on you.
- Maintain a strong support system. Keep yourself grounded by people who know, love, care, respect, and appreciate you. They should hopefully be people who are honest, considerate, and will build you up when they know you need it most. No matter how good or great you are, you can never have too much support. You can never have too many champions. But be sure to pay back in kind what they’ve given you as you make your way.
We all will experience our share of rejection in this life. But it’s what we do with it that makes the difference in what happens afterward. As writer Ray Bradbury said, “You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”
Don’t let rejection break you. Let it strengthen you and your quest to be all that you’ve been destined to be.