Let’s see if this sounds familiar: You work hard in preparation for that one position, promotion, scholarship, etc. You boost your resume, get involved in extra volunteer opportunities, spend your weekends working instead of partying, practice your presentation in front of the mirror, and you feel completely prepared. Then, after the interview and or application, the phone call comes and the one-dimensional, sympathetic voice on the phone recites the quintessential speech of how difficult of a decision it was, how you were so qualified, but that you didn’t receive the position. You act completely fine with it and graciously thank the messenger of the soul-crushing news as you edge towards the freezer to consume your pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
The most difficult part about rejection is that everyone acts as if that one promotion, position, or whatever it was didn’t even matter; they spent months and even years preparing, but it’s totally fine. They’re fine! They’re totally cool and they didn’t really have that much time for it anyway, right?
Rejection sucks, and instead of society collectively agreeing that it sucks and acknowledging the pain, we sweep it under the giant rug of apathy and walk over it as if nothing happened. It’s funny how we act as if this is normal when it isn’t. Of course, we’re allowed to feel joy, but any sign of feeling pain is a sign of ingratitude and weakness.
One of my close friends put it this way – you have to treat huge let-downs or rejections like a breakup. You need to take the time to grieve, to cry, to be angry, to eat an obscene amount of Oreos, and then you move on; there’s no cutting corners to being “fine” because it takes time and introspection.
This isn’t to say that we should use our failures as a crutch and as excuses to be sad or stagnant in our lives. There’s a fine line between acknowledging and feeling our pain and letting it consume us. We can also let the fear of rejection rule our lives and prevent us from trying again – that’s not the answer either. We need to make friends with rejection, take it in stride, feel the pain, but then get back up again.
We need to recognize our pain and let ourselves feel it. This is the only way to patch up the hole and move forward.