Rejection is Redirection

I don’t take rejection well. Or, at least I didn’t use to. 

I always equated rejection to failure and acceptance to success, which is probably because being accepted means gaining something — a new role or opportunity — which is associated with success. Being rejected, on the other hand, means loss, which is associated with failure. 

Whenever I got rejected by something or someone, I always thought that meant I had failed. “Losing” made me feel deficient; I thought I wasn’t good enough despite all the time and effort I put in. I thought I hadn’t worked hard enough, spent enough time on the application or prepared well enough for the interview. For whatever reason, I caused myself to not be worthy of acceptance. 

But rejection is not failure; instead, rejection is redirection.

That was made clear to me when I was given this piece of advice: when you are in the position to be accepted or rejected, the outcome is not solely based on you, but rather on what the other person is looking for.

When you try to obtain a new role and have all the qualifications that you think make you the ideal candidate, the assessor can view another candidate as a better fit for any reason. That reason does not have as much to do with you as it does what the assessor is looking for. Different people value different things, so when you put yourself in a position to be judged you are being judged on someone else’s values. 

Any time we put ourselves out there, the value of our actions is placed into other people’s hands. That’s part of what makes rejection so hard because nobody wants to be viewed as inadequate in any way. But it’s also what distinguishes rejection from failure because by losing one potential gain there becomes the potential for another.

Rejection redirects your focus to another opportunity, and what we consider a loss can’t always be so simplistic. Life is about give and take; by losing one opportunity, we don’t lose our potential for success, it just shifts onto something else. This redirection is a good thing because if one door had opened you would have never even knocked on the other. It can help you gain something you didn’t even know to reach for.

Looking towards the future, we’re all facing rejection, but we should stop fearing it so much. We can’t let other people’s judgment of us control our self-image, and we can’t let rejection be personal. It’s never easy, and I know I’m still working on it, but once we start to see rejection as redirection, it can help us continue to move forwards towards an opportunity better than we could expect.