The Art of Getting Over Rejection

How much does it suck to get rejected? Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying it’s the worst thing this world can throw at you, but it’s certainly not anyone's favorite feeling. You spend weeks, maybe even months, building this dream of working with a particular company or studying at a specific institution, only to have it shut down by a gently-worded apology. Sure, some people may be able to brush off a rejection without a second thought, but there are others who might feel hopeless after expending so much passion and energy into such a seemingly fruitless process. I bring this up because I was one of those hapless applicants not too long ago when I got rejected from a certain super-selective post-grad opportunity. I thought I had prepared myself adequately for the possibility of rejection, but I still held out hope for the likelihood that I, too, could be accepted. When I found out that the former was my fate, I was pretty devastated. It didn’t help that some of my friends and classmates were accepted to the same opportunity, and were, understandably, overjoyed. Of course I was happy for them, but I also felt upset and alone in my ordeal. After all, it’s easy to connect and rejoice with friends when they're accepted, but the people who were rejected aren't gloating about it on Facebook unless they are that dedicated to their sense of self-deprecating humor.

“Rejection?” you may say, “Marissa, I go to Claremont McKenna College. I am not familiar with such a term.” To that, I say, GREAT. Good for you, Dear Reader. If that’s the case, just close this article and proceed with your perfect life. But if you’re someone who has been rejected, it can serve as a growing experience and a powerful lesson in Getting Over It. This may be my denial talking, but I feel like a more resilient and humble person after the fact. But how?! How, might you ask, does one triumph over rejection? The following is a candid, step-by-step guide taken from my own experience.

  1. Congratulate. In the event that you know others who have been accepted for the same opportunity that you applied for, let them know that you’re happy for them. Had it been the other way around, wouldn’t you want them to congratulate you? Of course you would. So just suck it up and congratulate them. It may actually make you feel a little better.  Afterwards, you can calmly proceed to step two.
  2. Let it out. Just cry. It is completely okay to do this. Maybe you don’t want to see anyone after said rejection, or maybe all you’ll want to do is sob into somebody's arms. Either way, your actions are totally justified, in my opinion.
  3. See if they'll reconsider. In rare circumstances, you may be able to appeal the rejection. Do not appeal it just because you're unhappy with the decision- that's a given. Consult with the company/university before submitting an appeal.
  4. Watch funny videos. They exist for a reason. Never underestimate the healing power of the Internet, especially YouTube. If you need a place to start, I can make plenty of suggestions.
  5. Google everything that’s wrong with that company. I know, this sounds extremely bitter, but when rejection has taken everything out of you, Googling the worst things about a place can be so cathartic. Whether you're reading horror stories from people who attended that school, or blogs critiquing everything that company stands for, nothing is more liberating than feeling like this opportunity is the best thing you never had. On a related note, listening to aforementioned song by Beyonce on repeat also works wonders.
  6. Be grateful. Look at your life. Look at your choices. You are an intelligent individual in the prime of your youth. You are attending one of the premier colleges in America and you have a solid support system. You’re healthy. You’re fortunate. Keep this in mind, and pretty soon that rejection letter will seem so insignificant, you’ll start to wonder why you ever cried into your pillow to Adele’s “Someone Like You” in the first place.

It may take a day, or it may take a week. Either way, you’ll look back on this experience a stronger person. Pretty soon you'll find yourself even more revved up to do awesome things, just to show them what they're missing. Don't let rejection bring you down, or you'll be missing out on a valuable opportunity for self-empowerment.