What University Has Taught Me So Far- How To Deal With Rejection

Rejection is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc.”. What this cold and brief definition fails to mention is the pain created when you are rejected, be it from a job, internship, committee role or even socially. Studies have shown that rejection physically affects us too- the feeling of having been ‘punched in the gut’ when you receive that rejection email is not just in your head. The research into this physical response at psychological pain is still ongoing, and in the future, we will hopefully know a lot more about the effects of rejection and how they can be alleviated before they have a serious long-term impact on a person’s health. Whilst rejection is healthy and character-building in that it forces us to look at ourselves and improve the image we portray, this is also why it is so damaging. It puts us in a position of vulnerability before making us look critically at our own flaws. When you are already in such a negative mindset, this is a dangerous thing to have to do, as you are far more likely to be self-critical of even the most minor of flaws that, on a better day, you may even see as a positive attribute and one that makes you unique.

 

Without sounding like your stereotypical oh-woe-is-me law student, I myself encounter rejection on almost a weekly basis. This is especially hard because most law students, given the high grades needed to study law, are used to being over-achievers and having their hard work pay off. Whilst many things in my life have not always come easily to me, I have been in the privileged position of knowing that if I worked hard, chances are I would eventually succeed in my goals. This simply is not the case anymore for me. Not only is my course difficult and time-consuming, I know that in order to achieve my ambition of getting a training contract, I have to be applying for law events, taking part in various societies, volunteering, getting other work experience… the list goes on. But don’t get me wrong, I knew this long before I started my degree, so at least I knew what I was letting myself in for. What I didn’t realise was quite how much rejection I would have to get used to. It is not a foregone conclusion that I will get a place on a committee or internship simply by working hard on my application. I now even have an email folder for rejections. And you know what? Every single one hurts just as much as the last. I don’t know if it will ever get any easier to hear that something you have worked hard towards and really care about is not going to be an option anymore. Until it does, the best I can do is to talk about it, so that maybe other people don’t feel quite so alone when it inevitably happens to them too.

 

If you’re reading this having just received that dreaded letter, here’s the one thing I would say- this, too, shall pass. It is something my mum has always told me when I am having a bad day, and it seems clichéd, but it really is true. I am not a huge believer in fate, but there will be a reason why you have been rejected, and not simply that you are ‘not good enough’. Rejection is hard, and it always will be, but it is how you take that rejection that will shape you as an individual. Nowadays when I receive a rejection, I make sure I always take a moment to feel sad and a bit bitter before trying to turn it into a positive experience. Yes, this amazing opportunity that I would have loved to have taken advantage of is no longer open to me, but why is this and how can I improve my future applications? What else is there that I can apply to in order to test this out? See rejection as an opportunity to learn. If you can, ask for feedback and be open to it when it arrives! At the end of the day, remember that being rejected does happen to everyone, even the people you would least expect. Whilst it feels harsh today, in ten years’ time you probably will not remember it, and if you do, most likely it will be because it shaped your life for the better in the end. So, take that rejection, learn from it, and know that, if you keep trying, that pile of rejections will end in success.

If you’re reading this having just received that dreaded letter, here’s the one thing I would say- this, too, will pass. It is something my mum has always told me when I am having a bad day, and it seems clichéd, but it really is true. I am not a huge believer in fate, but there will be a reason why you have been rejected, and not simply that you are ‘not good enough’. Rejection is hard, and it always will be, but it is how you take that rejection that will shape you as an individual. Nowadays when I receive a rejection, I make sure I always take a moment to feel sad and a bit bitter before trying to turn it into a positive experience. Yes, this amazing opportunity that I would have loved to have taken advantage of is no longer open to me, but why is this and how can I improve my future applications? What else is there that I can apply to in order to test this out? See rejection as an opportunity to learn. If you can, ask for feedback and be open to it when it arrives! At the end of the day, remember that being rejected does happen to everyone, even the people you would least expect. Whilst it feels harsh today, in ten years’ time you probably will not remember it, and if you do, most likely it will be because it shaped your life for the better in the end. So, take that rejection, learn from it, and know that, if you keep trying, that pile of rejections will end in success.