5 Ways to Deal with Rejection


Rejection is an emotion which we will all inevitably face at some point in our lives. In this article Shirley tackles some awesome ways to kick rejection to the curb and move forward the healthy way.

There is a good chance that you’re going to experience rejection at some point in your life. We can all relate to that burning sense of humiliation after being rejected. For example,

  • You wish to be voted in as a class representative and your friend gets the position rather than you.
  • You get an awesome babysitting job, but the baby you’re looking after wants nothing to do with you.
  • You apply to a university but you don’t get in (by the way, if that happens, check out the TVET or Bridging Course options)
  • You ask out your crush (who you’ve had your eye on for ages) and they reject you (or if they don’t here is an article on how to deal with relationships at varsity).

So how can you best recover from rejection? Do you grab a jar of Nutella and hide in your room for weeks, or… do you find a way to learn from the rejection? (I’ll give you a hint – the longterm solution doesn’t involve Nutella!)

Yeah, I’ve Been Rejected

Let me tell you a secret…

Last year, a lucrative job opportunity presented itself to me. A job I felt that I was perfectly capable of doing, a job that I was well suited for and had plenty of experience in doing. I spent weeks pouring over the application form, first filling it in with pencil, then in pen, and then making sure each detail was correct and neatly written out. I then spent days writing a perfect motivational letter asking my boyfriend and family to read and reread it. Once I had sent the application off I spent a few more weeks dreaming of when I’d be called in for an interview and what my life would be like after I got the job.

Finally an email arrived, but it was not what I had expected….

“Dear Shirley, we regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful…”.

I was baffled. Standing in an isle at Pick n’ Pay I felt my eyes well up with tears and my heart pound. I was perfect for this job; why would they not have accepted me? I made a beeline for the Nutella isle, grabbed a jar, paid, and left before tears began streaming down my face. At home, with a spoon in the Nutella jar, I went through my application and motivational letter. Why had I not been given the job when I was obviously the perfect candidate?

The thing is, sometimes there are no explanations for our rejections and it’s better to move on. After a day of sulking I realised that I had been rejected so many times in the past and had still achieved so much despite this.

So here is my advice for getting through those moments of rejection:

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s natural to feel embarrassed after a rejection. My own confidence that I would get the job left me with a very bruised ego when in the end, I didn’t get it.

Remember to be kind to yourself and don’t engage in negative self-talk, it won’t get you anywhere. Take time to feel sad or disappointed and then dust yourself off and try again. Whether you have had a job rejection, or a university rejection – talk to your family and friends about it and then move on and leave it in the past. Lingering on what you might have done differently, or how unfair it is that you were rejected will only prolong that pain.

Learn from Your Mistakes

You should move forward, but remember to take constructive criticism from this rejection. Reflect on what might have worked differently.

  • Were you rejected from a university because your marks weren’t good enough? Or did you forget to submit an important document?
  • Were you rejected from a job you applied to because your CV was a mess?

More often than not, your rejection can be a blessing in disguise and will be the stepping stone to bigger and better things, provided you treat it as a positive experience and learn from the mistakes you may have made.

Realise that Everyone Experiences Rejection

It’s important to remember that everyone experiences rejection at some point in their lives. Seriously, even some of the most successful people we know have been rejected.

  • Steven Spielberg was rejected by University of Southern California School of Theatre, Film & Television – not once – but three times, before becoming one of the most respected and appreciated film directors and producers in the world.
  • JK Rowling was fired from the London office of Amnesty International before going on to write the world famous Harry Potter series.
  • Charlize Theron, South Africa’s own Benoni girl once wished to be a ballerina until she experienced a knee injury which would end her career as a dancer, but has since become a world famous actress and the first South African to win an Oscar.

So what can we learn from these people? Turn your rejection into a stepping tool for success.

Click here to read about more famous people who have experienced rejection here.

Be Confident

Don’t let this rejection destroy your sense of self-worth and accomplishment. You will be rejected multiple times in your life and in a multitude of ways. When you keep this in mind, each rejection becomes a part of everyday life. However, if you allow each rejection to make you feel like a failure, you will never be able to move forward. Be confident in your skills and continually strive to learn from your mistakes and your rejections.

So, the next time you get rejected, ask yourself,

“What can I learn from this situation?”

Then go on out and do better.

Don’t Let Rejection Keep You from Trying

Finally, keep trying. Rejection does not mean failure, but in fact, as counterintuitive as it may seem, rejection is a sign that you are putting yourself out there and trying. The key to handling rejection is taking it in your stride, by seeing it in a positive light.

The way that you tackle your rejection is what sets you apart from others. Do you throw a tantrum and turn the situation into a huge issue? Or do you take the rejection gracefully, take a deep breath, and learn from the situation by using the rejection to generate motivation and fiercer determination to achieve your goals?

Learn From It 🙂

Rejection is an experience which can either make or break you, depending on how you let it affect you and your choices. Remember that you can make your rejection into a positive experience by choosing to learn from it. If Oprah can do it, so can you.

In the wise words of Bo Bennett,

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.”

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And if all else fails, watch this hilarious video on how not to handle rejection.

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