I grew up a star child, like a proper star girl. I was born an over-achiever and I excelled my way all through primary school to high school. Even when I went through my bad academic season, a part of me knew it wasn’t for my lack of intelligence, it was simply because I wasn’t putting in the work. I got into every University I applied to, and I excelled through college. I was baby girl-ing to the fullest. So imagine my surprise when I received my first significant rejection letter, and it was for some measly retail job. I mean I have been rejected by crushes in high school but who wasn’t? Surprised cannot describe my feelings that day. Surely they must not know of my achievements and track record. They must not know of my scholarships and internships and academic record. I graduated from university at 18 for God’s sake, who do these people think they are?
Then another came, and another and another, and they just kept coming and I couldn’t understand why someone would reject me. Do they not know what I can do? With every rejection letter I received, my resentment grew. “They don’t deserve me anyway”, I thought to myself. “If they can’t see my value then they don’t deserve to have me”, I said in a bid to affirm myself. I took it personally and who wouldn’t? I had never been rejected before for anything, I was too good to be rejected or so I thought. My resentment and anger only grew from here, and it slowly morphed into sadness and almost depression. I took it personally because I needed them to see my worth, to see how good I was, but they didn’t and it broke my heart.
I remember when my crush rejected me in high school, I mean it’s not a big deal now but I almost died then. I knew I wasn’t physically attractive but it was the humiliation that came with the rejection that killed me and ate into my self-esteem. It was years later that I realized what I learnt from that experience. That day I learnt how not to handle the humiliation that came with the rejection. He had every right to reject me, he didn’t find me attractive and that is okay, it’s nothing personal. That experience taught me emotional agility and the importance of self-confidence. I learnt that I was not entitled to him, his reciprocation of affection or anything at all, and that’s one thing people don’t know or choose to have selective amnesia on.
You might be a valuable person to someone but they don’t owe you anything. You may have put yourself on the line for someone but they don’t owe you anything. You may like a guy/girl but s/he doesn’t have to see you that way, and that’s okay because s/he doesn’t owe you anything, even after all the gifts and effort. A lot people would disagree with me and that is okay. I believe understanding the values and the underlying meaning of people’s actions is what results in reciprocation. So say you put your reputation on the line for me to get a job, I will take that job seriously not because I owe you that much (because I really don’t), but because I appreciate you doing that (because not a lot of people would do that for me) and I respect you and don’t want to let you down (because you’ve been so nice to me and I’m a decent person), and also because I need the job. I find that thinking this way is very useful in managing disappointments and people but I digress.
I believe people take life too seriously, and as a result take rejections to heart. You can make a choice; that most things aren’t personal and that the motivation behind these rejections aren’t to take a jab at your person, anything but that is fine. A jab to your person is disrespect and should be treated as such. There is also another choice you can make and that is to let it get to you and be angry. There’s also the place of lived experiences when maybe your parents rejected you or didn’t value you, and I’m sorry that happened to you, but you need to learn to move past it. As someone that had a not-so-great childhood, I find that holding on to these experiences don’t make you a better person and definitely do not allow for growth in life. They hold you back and it’s really not worth it. It will be hard, but let go. Whenever I complained to my mum about how tough school is, she would look me in the face and say “No pain, no gain baby girl”. So endure the pain of letting go because the results will be worth it.
In learning to let go, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but here are some things that worked for me. First is knowing your worth and I feel like I say this a lot but knowing your worth is so important. Initially, I would delete rejection letters because it took a jab at my confidence and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that ( out of sight is out of mind right?), but recently I started saving them. I mean it still hurts a bit but I’m able to easily dust it off and remind myself that the rejection means that it wasn’t for me and that’s okay. I realized that all I need is one person to see my value and with the billions of people on earth, someone will eventually see your value. In the meantime, don’t lose hope and keep reminding yourself of what you’re worth. Rejection doesn’t diminish your value, it just shows that one person doesn’t see it and that’s absolutely okay. Everyone has the right to choose what they think is valuable.
I also stopped doubting myself when I took on the mindset that God has something great in store for me, so it’s fine if one thing doesn’t work out. God’s timing is the best and no one can stop God from delivering what is mine when it’s my time. It’s really a mix of knowing my secular value and knowing my value in Christ. My friends have also helped a lot in managing rejection and my life in general. My friends are absolutely amazing and God keeps connecting me to beautiful people that believe in me more than I believe in myself. My friends are constantly pushing me to do more and say more and be more, and I find that it has really done a number on my confidence. I’m able to easily share my sorrows and rejections with my friends and they are there to either encourage me in the spirit or encourage me by teasing me. In the words of Bobrisky, “no one has ever died from insort” and he’s absolutely right. Friends that don’t tease you, are those ones friends? My friends tease me a lot, from a place of love and it hurts sometimes, but it really helps. There’s also the place of balancing the teasing with encouragement, good friends know this and are exceptional at it.
These things and some other things like personal development and a thirst for knowledge have kept my head above the waters on so many occasions. And I am not saying I’m perfect or living a perfect life, my life is as dysfunctional as they come but I try and make the best of it because I did not come to this world to suffer. All I’m trying to say is, don’t take rejection/failure/humiliation personal, see it as motivation to keep pushing to keep working to create the best version of yourself. It’s really weird but I recently started reading and keeping all my rejection letters, and for some reason I am more motivated than ever to keep pushing. Everyone has faced rejection at some point and we will continue to face rejection whether we like it or not, so focus on how to manage it instead. Channel your energy into ensuring it doesn’t negatively affect you, and you can grow to draw a fighter’s energy from your rejections, don’t let it overcome you. Keep pushing, you can do it. You’re almost there!
Edited by the most correct guy in the world, Ayo Alfonso ❤️