By: Alisa Tanaka, IATG Contributor February 11, 2016
As twenty-something young women, we are taught a lot of things. We are taught that if we are physically beautiful, we will be desired, and if we are desired, we will be happy. Amidst all of that, we are taught that rejection is a bad thing. Many of us equate it with failure.
I’m here to present a different possibility: that rejection is your friend.
Yes, you read that right.
I do not claim to have all of the answers. I am not someone who flashes a Cheshire cat grin and jumps for joy when a healthy serving of rejection is dumped on my plate. But I am learning.
I applied for a job teaching English abroad two months ago. I recently received a notification that I was not selected as a candidate for this particular position.
I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I had been until I broke down and cried after I reread the email a few times to be sure that I understood.
After I let that emotion pass through me, I knew that I had two choices:
a.) Whine and mope.
b.) Change my mindset.
I’m not saying that it was easy. But I went with option b. I’ve been trying to make sure I choose option b every time I get rejected from anything. Here are three things I’ve learned about rejection during my career.
1. Rejection is not a reflection of you.
One of the keynote speakers at a conference I attended a few years ago gave a speech on rejection. During said speech, the speaker said the following:
“Rejection is nothing more than someone’s opinion and preference. It says as much about the person who gives the rejection as the people who receive it.”
This means, in short, that when you don’t get a job you apply for, it doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. It just means that the people who looked at your application didn’t think that you were a good fit for the job for whatever reason.
I like the sound of that a lot more than the idea that you are completely inadequate, don’t you?
2. It’s okay not to know what comes next.
A lot of us are at an age where we are expected to have all of our marbles together in the bag. But there’s no way around it: rejection stings. It’s okay to sit and reflect.
And if you don’t come up with an answer to the question “What’s next?” within 24 hours, that’s okay. Not knowing what is next for you leaves you open to the possibility that something even better than the opportunity you were pursuing will find its way to you.
3. Every “no” brings you closer to a “yes”.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s completely understandable that you may want to just throw your hands up. But every time someone tells you that you’re not the right person for the job, you get closer and closer to the person who will look at your credentials and think that you are just the right person for the job.
As I scrolled through one of my social media feeds on the day I received my rejection emails, I stumbled across an image of a piece of paper on which someone had written the words, “If you get ‘no’ as an answer, remember ‘no’ means ‘next opportunity.’”
Share a time when you experienced rejection. What did you learn from it? How did it make you grow? What did you do to overcome the sting of “no?”
Alisa Tanaka graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Communications in 2012. When she’s not writing her blog, she can be found reading, volunteering, dreaming of traveling the world, trying to master the 5 languages she speaks, or playing with her puppy.
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