Woe Is Me! “Constant Rejection Is Making Me Moody. How Can I Be Less Mean?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
I always had quite a hard time dealing with rejections, especially when it comes to academic rejections (since it is inevitable compared to those in relations). I’ve always been quite reserved about my relations in general. Selective nature in relationships is not just for honesty, but to avoid rejections and heartbreak in the future. Even though it has helped me in securing healthy relationships, it also caused me innumerable losses. Now that I have Graduated and I am looking towards Post-graduation, the series of rejections begin again. This time it seems to affect my relationships too. From a moody daughter, insensitive sister to a jealous friend, I am crossing all of my limits. I really don’t want to be like this.
— Not a failure
RP: Rejection is unavoidable and usually beyond our control, but it doesn’t have to be terrible. We can control how much it stings and what it makes us do (or keeps us from doing) next. A full life is always going to have plenty of rejection along the way. There’s no way around it. Hearing ‘no’ feels easier and productive once we accept that it will happen and allow it to happen a lot. Frequent rejection is a sign that you are putting yourself out there and facing real risks. Accepting that it will happen will stop rejection from feeling like loss and start feeling like progress.
First, rejection is not about you. It’s about the person who is rejecting. They state that what fits you is not for them for reasons you might speculate but don’t know. We always want to be accepted but remind ourselves it isn’t what you bring but what they need. Second, the immediate rejection can feel much more significant in the scheme of things than it actually is. There is no one opportunity, a relationship, a job, or anything else that’s going to make or break you. There will also be plenty more. Let rejection feel like a nudge in the right direction and not the end of the path.
DR: Sigh. I feel you. It’s not easy to deal with rejection — at least, for me, it never has been. I know I’m susceptible to rejection. It feels like a robust and hard punch in my gut; it’s physically painful. But what do you do when you get a physical injury? You wait for it to heal, right — rather than expecting to miraculously recover from it simply because you wish it were gone? In the meantime, you’re also irritable because this constant pain is not allowing you to focus on anything else. You may also be envious of others who you see going about their lives without having to deal with this pain. But, at the end of the day, you give yourself the time to recover. I think that’s the same approach you should take with the pain that rejection is causing you. And, of course, multiple rejections are going to compound the pain — if you’re wounded, and you keep poking that wound, it’s bound to hurt, right? To me, what you’re experiencing appears to be natural. You could, however, work on how it’s affecting your relationships with those close to you. Maybe you can let them know how you’re feeling or just take some space from them until you’re feeling a little better. A therapist, too, could help you navigate this better, perhaps? Meanwhile, just let yourself heal.
RN: Hey there, you seem to be in a position that many people can relate to but are one of the few who perhaps show so much self-awareness and concern about it. It’s firstly really empathetic of you to consider the impact your difficulty with rejection has on others. There are some wins to celebrate here — your healthy relationships! You’re probably not as moody, insensitive, or jealous as you’re making yourself out to be. But this is definitely a complicated feeling to sit with, and I’m sorry you’re so afraid of it. I’m sure you know that rejection is a part of life, so I won’t bother giving you that spiel. It’s perfectly valid to find life difficult because of the things inherent to it. With that said, your fear of rejection regarding other people maybe bordering on an inability to accept their boundaries, so it may be worth introspecting on that front. If it’s causing you so much difficulty, please try and see a therapist about this particular issue. I hope you get through the admission season knowing that the whole process has very little to do with you or your achievements. It has everything to do with networks, optics, connections, and how well you can sell yourself. These skills go beyond your abilities and what you work towards and can often be privileged that are hard to reach. Take care!
PB: I can empathize – we’re socially conditioned to hate and avoid failure at all costs. Rejection is almost a fact of life- and equating it with failure is what lands so many of us in the depths of a dark well. I can only offer advice in terms of personal experience- for a long time, I had many anger issues. What helped me the most was stopping myself from looking at life as just a big picture. Life is overwhelmingly present, yet we’re used to constantly obsessing over the other tenses. One step at a time, one day at a time. Make sure to tell yourself that wanting to become a better person is already halfway to being a better, more fulfilled human being. What we can most affect is today, right now- choose to tell yourself that rejection is merely a stepping stone to the future you envision. You’ll be surprised how much present optimism can help you across time.
AS: Dealing with any kind of rejection is not easy, be it in your personal or professional life. So I think, for starters, you could cut yourself some slack for feeling low about being rejected — it’s the most usual reaction. But like you said, we’re bound to be dismissed at some point in life, and so it’s best to work on healthy (-ish) ways to cope with the sting. In my experience, I think it helps to just talk about it — almost like announcing rejections louder than your successes. Of course, you’d have to be selective about the people you do this with, so best to pick some supportive friends and family members. It might also help involve your near and dear ones in the coping process instead of shutting them out.
Another thing that might help is a change in perspective. When you look back at your life, say 5-10 years later, wouldn’t it be a richer, more varied experience to have seen and lived through different highs and lows? This is a bit philosophical, and yes, I admit, it does take some effort to keep reminding oneself of this, but I think it pays off in the end.
SS: Okay, dealing with rejection is the absolute worst. I tend to not listen to anybody who tells me it’s a good thing or the whole “look at the bright side” rubbish. You tried for something, and it didn’t work, and it feels terrible. The only thing I can tell you from experience is to try not to personalize it. It’s difficult as hell to not make the rejection a reflection of your capabilities but try. I’d advise you to not turn this into an analysis (unless you are so held back by rejection that you cannot function every day. In which case, please see a therapist, there might be more clinical factors at play). Cope with the feelings the way you feel most comfortable. Allow yourself to feel moody and angry or whatever. Once it’s out of your system, you’ll find it easier to dust this off and go back to focusing on doing things you need to.
BG: Facing rejection sucks, I know. But instead of seeing rejection as a bad thing, try looking at it as a chance to do something else or something even better! Almost like it was supposed to happen so that you can be sent in another direction to find something you genuinely love. It’s easier said than done, but you need to remember that rejection is widespread. It’s almost inevitable in our lives, so it’s better to start learning how to deal with it instead of letting it push you off-path. I think once you start telling yourself that, everything else will automatically get better – like your relationships with your loved ones.
PR: Hey, I can completely understand how difficult it can be to see a series of rejections can cause everything to go haywire. Not meaning to sound cliched, but it means that where you will be accepted for your post-graduation is kind of where you’re supposed to be. Personally, having dealt with a lot of rejections, I gave up trying during my undergraduate. Especially when I realized the futility of my course. I hope you are not losing hope and faith in your abilities and capabilities. Even if you are in this moment, I urge you to trust in the process of things panning out. Because they do pan out.
If you feel jealousy, try and remember all that you have achieved and dealt with until now. What’s great is that you already seem to realize that you don’t want to be insensitive to the people around you. It helps to take a walk, vent your frustration, and get back to work/focus on your applications.
I hope you feel better, and take care!
Oh, and please have some chai — with lots of ginger.