How to Handle Rejection - Why You Shouldn't Let it Stop You

I had never been rejected prior to starting my freshman year of college. I got everything I wanted in high school— when I wanted to climb the ladder in my journalism class, I did, becoming the newsmagazine editor-in-chief and the yearbook assistant editor after just one year. When junior year rolled around and everyone was applying for National Honor Society, I did too, and I got it. I was even able to become treasurer and vice president of a club, which I joined at the last minute, that organized sports tournaments and our annual 5K run (which, if you know me, is totally not my kind of thing).

Photo credit

Professionally, I had never been rejected for volunteer work or a job either. I don’t know what factor to thank— maybe I had really good recommendation letters? Or a strong resume? And it probably didn’t hurt that I knew a few people who worked at the places I applied to.

When I first came to BU, I was ready to sign up for all the extracurriculars that had interested me. Splash, our annual club fair, was an overachiever’s dream come true. I had quickly narrowed the list to my strongest interests: Her Campus, CAS Student Government, and the Chinese Students Association (CSA).

The first two clubs took me in with open arms, and I was extremely content. CSA, though, didn’t go as planned.

I ran for freshman representative at the beginning of the year. It was an exciting moment— I bought my first blazer in preparation, hung out with the other freshmen also at elections, and walked into an interview (where I would have to give a speech) for the first time in my life without the anxiety that had haunted me in my younger years. And then …

I didn’t get it.

Which is perfectly reasonable. I had written my speech the night before. I probably didn’t make enough eye contact during my speech. I floundered on some of the questions they asked me, simply saying “shopping” when they asked me what I like to do for fun. I had also shown interest in CSA in the first place because I had never really known any people my age that shared my heritage. That kind of ignorance isn’t really suitable for an e-board member.

Photo credit

This was my first rejection, and I’m glad it happened.

I was numb for a while afterward. I stopped putting myself out there as much. It was the only thing on my mind. Even when I was assigned a big (CSA has a big/little program), which was also a fairly selective process, I felt the same kind of numbness and aversion.

But when they say time heals, they’re right. After a month or two, it didn’t matter as much to me. I started looking at the bright side of things— if I had gotten it, I definitely would’ve had less time to spend on my other commitments, which I ended up falling in love with.

Photo credit

A while later, I even put myself out there again. It was a tutoring job at BU, and I didn’t get it either. But that one stung a lot less.

First rejections are hard, but like all things, the timing is important. Right now, in the safety of college, I can afford rejection. There’s a lot going on all the time— exams, presentations, projects, etc. But BU, despite its location in the city, still isn’t quite the real world. Rejections here are cushioned. Rejections out there? Not so much.

Photo credit

While I haven’t developed the maturity to embrace rejection yet, I get it a little now. And I hope I’ll understand it even more as time goes by.


Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!