For college students, it sometimes feels like we’re constantly applying, submitting and interviewing. Whether it’s an internship, a publication opportunity, a fraternity or a minimum wage job scooping ice cream, many different opportunities require us to “put ourselves out there” in some form. Unavoidably, some of those applications and interviews are going to end in rejection. But if getting rejected happens so often, and to everybody, why should we feel so bad when it happens?
This week, I received five (five!) separate and unique rejection letters from different online publications. Initially, each one stung. It’s hard not to think about the lost opportunity and the hard work I put in. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that rejection can actually be a very positive thing.
Being rejected is a sign that you’re being active, not passive. You’re putting yourself out there and going after what you want, and that is the path toward achieving your goals. No one can be accepted or hired or published every time, but the more you persevere, the greater the chance that something will work out. Being scared of rejection is a valid feeling, but fear should not prevent you from chasing your goals.
Often, rejection can in fact be helpful because it may signal something you need to work on. I appreciate it when editors give me feedback on my submissions because it gives me specific things I can improve. If you receive a rejection, you may want to consider asking for feedback. People won’t always be able to give it to you, but it’s worth a shot.
Rather than letting rejection break you down, think about how it can make you stronger. Encountering rejection in one aspect of life can prepare you to face it in another aspect of life. Because I know what it’s like to be rejected from a publication, or for an acting role, I’m beginning to understand that it’s something I can survive. I’m less nervous to ask that cute guy out for coffee because I know I’ll be OK if he says no. Rejection prepares you to stray from your comfort zone and take chances without viewing every “no” as a failure.
Whether we like it or not, rejection is a necessary fact of life. But we can redefine our reaction to it. We can choose to embrace rejection and let it lift us up, instead of sinking us down.
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