No one likes rejection. Let’s be honest, it is a thoroughly unpleasant feeling. Whether facing rejection from the cute guy you have a crush on and finally got the courage to speak to, or the dream job you were fantasising about, rejection just feels like a humiliating smack in the face. So, can anything good actually come from such a crap experience? Proper, lasting, evident good? Not just the annoying platitudes people throw at you to try to make you feel better. Well, that is what I am wondering. I would have normally said no, rejection is just s**t and as soon as the feelings of embarrassment have subsided, I will quickly lock away the memory of the event in a tiny box in my mind, throw away the key and pretend until my dying day that it never happened (apart from when my brain decides to put on a fun slideshow of all of my personal rejections at 3am). But, as redundancy has thrown a s***-ton of rejections my way, I have taken some time to stop and think about what it has actually taught me.
I am going to be honest, I didn’t think it would actually be this hard to get another job. Call me naive, stupid, even arrogant, but I thought I had a strong skill set and a good background and would find another job fairly easily, especially now I wasn’t looking in London where the competition is fierce! Wow, I was wrong. SO WRONG!! My huge amount of rejection emails definitely proves that. But I can’t just sit down and wallow in the feelings of failure. Why? I have bills to pay, a new home to find, a partner to help support, a life I want to lead. I have to keep going. So, with each rejection, I get up, dust myself off, and get another application out. And another. And another for good measure. The sheer perseverance to keep going, throughout all this is a type of strength I didn’t realise I had until now. And if someone out there is reading this and is in a similar situation, then you know this. To be faced with a challenge such as this amid a pandemic, with an ever-increasing unemployment rate and new jobs thin on the ground, it is a testament to your character that you get out of bed every day, switch your computer on and keep going.
2. Criticism helps
No one really likes criticism. I mean, who wouldn’t prefer to be showered in a sea of compliments and praise?! But sometimes, you need to be sat down and given some home truths. The criticism I have received throughout my many, MANY rejections, whilst at first was incredibly deflating, actually highlighted areas that I needed to look at. It made me ask myself some big questions that are easy to overlook when you are on the job-hunt autopilot.
“What am I actually wanting to say?”
“What do I still need to learn?”
‘What do I really want in this new career?”
The criticism I received forced me to be honest with myself. Instead of trying to appear to be the perfect, all singing, all dancing candidate, I started to think about what I was uniquely good at. I narrowed things down. I highlighted areas where I needed to improve; areas where I needed to seek out further training. I stopped looking at all the rejections and criticism as some outside force that was punishing me and started to accept that maybe I wasn’t perfect. Maybe there were things I needed to do better and could do better.
3. You don’t have to be positive all the time
“Just stay positive, things will get better”
“Give it time, you will be fine”
“This too shall pass, don’t worry”
All of these are frequent sayings that get thrown my way when I receive another rejection. Easy, polite sayings from people who continue to remind me that things could be worse and that I have X, Y, and Z to be happy about. Whilst I know that they are coming from a place of love and that they just want to see me with a smile on my face, I can’t help but feel angry at it. Because sometimes, for just a moment, we have to allow for things to not be ok. We have to be able to take off the smiling mask and feel like we can safely crumble without having to feel guilty for not keeping the positive vibes going. The idea that we must always be positive is reinforced into our brains to such a degree that it can actually have the complete opposite effect. Sometimes, especially when dealing with rejection, we need a safe space to have our feelings heard, without someone else feeling the need to fix the situation with positivity. By doing so, we can help ourselves to move through the negative pain and come out of the other side ready to fight another day.
What has rejection taught you? I would love to hear/read your thoughts!