“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~Dalai Lama
When I entered college, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to be an actuary, just like my sister.
Judy had just graduated, and she loved her job. My sister and I are very similar (both of us are math nerds, for example), so I knew I would love it too.
While my school didn’t have an Actuarial Science major or any formal preparation for the career, I was able to get ahead, passing the qualifying exams at a rapid clip. And just as I was supposed to, I got a prestigious internship at a big consulting firm the summer after my junior year.
Life was good. I loved my internship. I was being paid handsomely. And I was doing well, as indicated by my performance review.
When the summer was over, all I had to do was wait for the call, the job offer, and I’d be set for life.
That was the plan, at least.
Of course, things never quite work out as planned. So when the phone call eventually came, it wasn’t with a job offer, but rather the only rejection out of our six-person internship class.
While it was disappointing, I knew that with my great qualifications I would get an offer from another big company. In fact, I had connections at some competing firms, which I was sure would lead to another comparable job.
I did everything I had to do. I interviewed perfectly, and no one else who was interviewing for the same positions had passed as many exams as I had.
Yet somehow, it wasn’t good enough. By Christmas, I had gotten rejected from every single company I had applied to.
I wasn’t sure how to feel. Of course, I felt pretty bad. But then, I kind of didn’t.
You see, I was never able to study abroad in college. My roommate spent five months living in Jerusalem, and I was jealous. Suddenly, I was presented with the opportunity to remedy my #1 regret.
And now, nearly a year later, I am living in Netanya, Israel, teaching English and having a great time. Out of rejection came a wonderful opportunity for me.
Perhaps I’m just lucky. I certainly am grateful for the way things turned out. That being said, there is a mindset behind turning rejection into good fortune, and that mindset can be developed.
Does Rejection Always Have to Hurt?
Who says rejection always has to be painful?
You have probably been so concerned with avoiding rejection that it never occurred to you it can sometimes be a good thing.
Maybe you approached a girl and she didn’t give you her number. What if she would have been terrible for you and you saved yourself a lot of trouble by not talking to her again?
Maybe you applied for a job and didn’t get it. What if you would have hated that job, or would have been selling your life away?
As you can see, the idea of rejection is not as clear cut as you may have thought.
Here’s a novel idea: stop looking at everything as success versus failure, or acceptance versus rejection. Instead, see every situation as an opportunity to see what happens and get some feedback about the world. You’ll always get some feedback, so you can’t possibly get rejected!
What to Do If You’ve Been Rejected
You won’t always be able to reframe your rejections quickly and smoothly. The fact is, you are going to experience hurt feelings or negative emotions in these types of situations.
When this happens, you need a fast-acting toolkit of mindsets to adopt and actions to take in order to minimize these negative emotions and get back on your feet. So remember:
1. Don’t take it personally.
It’s not always about you. The girl who was rude to you this morning may have already had a boyfriend, or perhaps her dog died the night before. The company that didn’t give you an interview had hundreds of other applicants, and the budget for only one position.
The rejection might not reflect upon you in the slightest.
2. Remember that we all say no sometimes.
When you get rejected, the other party is simply declining a request. Surely you have denied somebody else’s request before. It’s simply a fact of life that you can’t say yes to everyone all the time.
Just as you have the right to say no to someone else, other people have the right to say no to you. Acknowledge that the other party is at liberty to make this choice.
3. Forgive the other person.
Understand that their saying no may be just as difficult for them as it is for you. Maybe they hate to turn down your job application because they know you would be a great fit, but they needed to hire the boss’ son instead.
4. Try again.
Don’t let a rejection scare you off of future attempts. You are more likely to succeed on your second or third try. And even if you don’t get the result you want, you’ll get feedback so you can keep improving.
5. Realize you don’t need external validation for happiness.
Everything you need to be happy is already within you. External validation feels good, but it’s nothing compared to the happiness you can achieve when you realize you don’t need it.
The feeling of rejection is such a common complaint that it is a wonder that people don’t stop to think of how meaningless it is.
If you can learn to reframe it, you’ll never have to feel the sting of rejection or the paralyzing fear it can cause again.
Your turn: Have you ever successfully reframed a rejection situation? How did you do it?
Photo by jinterwas