How to deal with rejection even when it comes from all angles

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

If you want to live a life of ease and stability, that’s okay. If you want to be that smart individual in class, that’s still okay. If the idea of risking it all feels uncomfortable to you don’t worry. It’s still okay.

But, I have lived long enough to know that rejection exists. I have met rejection on so many occasions. I have had to deal with the fact that, sometimes it is inevitable.

I have had to face, what some call personal demons. Rejection exists in the job market. Many job-seekers have had to come across it in one way or the other. It exists in the social environments. In relationships. Yes, some have had to see that cruel thing in their homes.

Yet, many of us would almost cringe if anyone said something “positive” about rejection, which is totally understandable. Being rejected is no fun at all.

This is evident, especially if it comes after long sleepless preparations- having dotted every eye on the CV and cover letter. When you were very optimist about the near future and your efforts went down the drain.

I have been there. I have seen a great deal of it. During these encounters with rejection, truth be told I hated life. I thought, like many, that life “sucks”.

On so many occasions, I thought the world was out to get me. I wanted to die and leave all behind. But, during one of those struggles with rejection I was brought to a new light of seeing rejection.

For the first time, rejection looked and felt like an old friend. This was after so many failing applications for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). I wanted to give up.

In fact, I had already given up. I thought, like many, that I am not good enough. That, such opportunities belong to the special few.

In that dark period, a very good friend of mine showed up. He began to show me why giving up was not an option. He had to be very convincing, believe me. He began to share his side of the story.

To my amazement, rejection was common to all of us. Rejection had its toll on him too. He knew what he was talking about when he said, I had to keep going.

Still, unconvinced and uncomfortable I began to pursue the seemingly impossible idea of getting into the YALI fellowship. Guess what happened? I met rejection again. My world was turned topsy-turvy. I knew right there that I had to quit. But, a miracle happened. Two to three weeks after a rejection email, I got a congratulation email.

Unbelievable, right? I couldn’t get my head around it. I thought maybe a few minutes later, I will receive the normal “we are sorry” or “we regret…” but it never came.

I was after all, admitted into the program. I successfully completed it. Persistence, which had to be propped up by a friend paid off. I began to pursue other opportunities with a renewed zeal. Guess who was luring at my door? You guessed right, rejection. I was being rejected; you’d think I got paid just for trying.

I continued. A lot of times, I applied for the opportunities in which I had no chance of being admitted. Few of those times, it paid off. Ever since, I began to learn great lessons and have to come to embrace rejection and failure as old friends.

I have come a long way and risked losing the respect I received, while at school or on academic grounds, as the brilliant individual. I have come to see as normal, pursuing the things that have very high risks of failure and a very high potential for benefits should they succeed.

I know what it feels like to be seen as a genius and to see people aspiring to be me. I have been there. But many, today, if they knew what I have to deal with in order to become the person that I am wouldn’t want that even for their worst enemies.

I have been betrayed in the employment sector after having volunteered for years, with a promise of getting employed when a vacant position emerged. I have hated those who made failing promises. I harbored hatred.

Although I learnt this the hard way, I have come to embrace rejection. I have come to believe that in some parts of this world, danger of receiving a rejection after a rejection is the only fact you can know, where stability and/or consistency are not options.

As opposed to being paralyzed by several rejections, I believe we have to find ways of viewing it as just a feedback. Not labeling feedback as positive or negative is not to be thought of as easy. It isn’t. But it is feedback that should be dealt with.

We must learnt the art of emotional intelligence. Be objective, even when feedback tastes bitter. Rejection and failure will come, ultimately. So there is no escaping. But everyone of us has to figure out a way of embracing this fact.


Teboho Polanka
Teboho is a Social Worker, Writer and Inspirational Speaker. He is in pursuit of MSc. in Managerial Psychology. Graduates are able to apply psychological principles and methods to tackle challenges in the work environment and provide effective practical solutions. Acting as industrial-organizational psychologists.