Jordan. Spielberg. Winfrey. Jobs. Aside from having acquired unthinkable wealth and success, what these individuals share is something far too many of us fear the most: Rejection. Some of the most influential people of our time have gone through not one, but a series of rejections throughout their lives, only to come out on top. And while most of us aren't likely to achieve the levels of super-stardom of our faves, we still have to know how to deal with rejection.
How you ask? Well... by not taking it personal. That's how.
I know, I know... you may be thinking to yourself:
No. Seriously, friends. If I've learned anything valuable in my adult life thus far, it's that sometimes things that "seem" to be about me are often not entirely so.
No matter how you slice it, the rejection process is never easy. However, one way to make it feel like less of a personal blow to your self-esteem is to realize that not every rejection is meant to be a personal attack on (or reflection of) you. The fact is that what feels like a personal rejection can sometimes have very little to do with you.
When I was younger, and even as recently as last year - I would really take criticism and rejection to heart. I would get down on myself for long periods of time, wondering what it was that I did wrong. I would feel frustrated and like I had failed at achieving the simplest of things. Always pointing the finger at myself.
As I've grown and matured, I've learned that there are certain situations where rejection is bound to happen... even if it's unwarranted.
Rejection Due to Unavailability: There have been times where I've had to be assessed and interviewed in order to attain a professional position. I've gone into these situations as confidently as was possible for me, knowing that I had to 'sell myself'' to the person(s) in charge of making the decision. And even after feeling like I had aced an interview or test... there came the rejection anyway. The twist? Little did I know that the people in charge of making said decision already had another person in mind for the role. In other words, nothing I could have said or done in my interview would have landed me the position because in their minds, the job already belonged to someone else. Even though I was given the 'opportunity', there was little to no chance of me actually getting the role.
Rejection Due to Trauma or Fear of Rejection: I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. I think many of us have either been on the giving or receiving end of this type of rejection. I've probably been on both sides of the coin, if I'm being honest. Sometimes we chooses to protect ourselves from rejection by rejecting someone or something first. It's definitely not an ideal way to cope with feelings, but for some of us... it seems to be the only way we can escape the anxiety of impending judgment, disappointment, or hurt. Due to past negative or traumatic experiences, sometimes we subconsciously (or consciously) decide that we simply aren't going to let anyone in who reminds us of a prior pain - even if the new person hasn't necessarily done us any harm. There's a fine line between self-preservation and self-sabotage... and this type of rejection is smack dab in the middle.
Rejection Due to Dismissal or Disinterest: This is perhaps the most frustrating type of rejection. Being denied or dismissed because someone simply chooses not to get to know you is a tough pill to swallow. Recently, I experienced this when trying to get to know someone on a personal level. After only a handful of meet-ups and conversations, they made up their mind that getting to know me further was just not going to be worth their time. In the short time we started corresponding, we butted heads on a few occasions, but we also liked other aspects of each other's character.
Unfortunately though, based on one disagreement, the person decided that they no longer wanted to pursue a deeper relationship with me, so they politely called it quits. The old me would have probably gone home, curled into bed and beat myself up about it; but I've put a stop to that. After digesting the whole picture of what had actually happened, it became evident to me that the person's impatience and unwillingness to 'learn me' is what caused the rejection. They literally didn't have the time to get to know me, so they cut me off. And as frustrating as it was to accept, I also knew it wasn't on me to prove myself to that person after that point. If they didn't want to take the time or allow me the time I needed to further open up to them (introvert problems!)... then so be it.
We clearly live in very ego-driven times; and sometimes we tend to think that every situation that involves us is ABOUT us. That's not always the case with rejection, though. Sometimes...