Over the last few months I have spent a significant amount of time applying for jobs. The process of which is something I have found quite tricky really. You spend hours thinking about and writing about why you would be the best person for this job and you convince yourself that you are. You submit your application full of hope and promise. And if you’re a dreamer like me you may even stop for a moment and imagine what your life would be like if you got that job. Then you wait and wait and just as you begin to let it slip to the back of your mind the moment comes and you receive the email.
“I regret to inform you...”
And the story of what could have been is no more. I am not embarrassed to admit that the first time I received that rejection I shed a more than a few tears.
But rejection is part of life. It is inevitable and it is painful. We face rejection from jobs, in social situations from romantic partners and in sport when we just don’t make the cut. Unfortunately we can’t stop or prevent the pain of rejection but we can choose how we respond to it.
When we experience rejection many of us jump into defensive mode. We point our fingers and play the blame game, or we list off all the excuses we can think of. Whilst all of these behaviours are our efforts to preserve our ego and self esteem, they don’t help us move forward. Sometimes we simply aren’t the best person for that job and we need to accept that.
That being said rejection usually isn’t personal. One rejection does not make you a failure, it doesn’t define your worth or value and just because you were rejected this time doesn’t mean you will be next time.
In sport we experience rejection all the time, be it not making the team, being benched or not getting the contract. And often we hear the story of the successful athlete who found a way to use rejection to fuel their fire and motivate with an “I’ll show them” mentality. And this can be helpful but only if we can also pause and reflect on what we can change and do to be better.
When we experience rejection it is important that we take time to process it, feel the sadness or anger that it brings, and ask what did I learn from this experience?
It is our responsibility to learn from rejection, to take time to try and understand why we might have been rejected, and to choose which direction we want to travel in next. Don’t let the fear or rejection stop you from trying.
For me, being rejected from that first job highlighted that I was perhaps trying to run before I could walk. But also that the jobs I was applying for was something I really wanted. And so I am continuing to submit my applications (to slightly less ambitious jobs) requesting feedback to learn from each rejection, and continuing to move forwards and gain more experience. The rejections emails still hurt but I am learning to handle them now.
“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success” - Bo Bennett