Breaking Down the Taboo of Rejection

Rejection season is coming up: The time when people all over campus get emails or letters which regret to say, “you weren’t good enough.” I could tell you all sorts of things to make you reevaluate your rejection. I could say that you are good enough, and that you just haven’t found the right position for you yet. I could tell you to keep your chin up as you try to find the positives within your rejection. But instead, what I’m going to tell you is that when you get that rejection letter, and you want to feel pity for yourself — do so. Feel sorry for yourself. Bemoan the world and ask yourself why it’s so unfair. Eat that chocolate cake. Buy that tub of ice cream. Curl up in a blanket and marathon Dawson’s Creek for a day. Don’t look on the bright side. Look at that darkness and immerse yourself in it.

I’ve received many rejections in my time at UCI and let me tell you, they suck. Once I got a rejection from something I thought I had in the bag. It was something which I should have gotten hands-down and which I was assured of. But I didn’t, and that fact crushed me. When I opened that email, I couldn’t speak. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I was completely inconsolable. I searched and scavenged for the positive, but there was no finding it. There was nothing positive about the situation I was in.

So instead of trying to make myself feel better, I let myself feel as pathetic as possible. I gave into the pity party that was waiting for me at home. I got in my car, locked the doors, rolled up the windows, and turned on the most sappy music I could find: the “Love Songs” program on KOST 103.5. And I sang my heart out for two hours.

I sat in that car for two straight hours belting out the lyrics to “Hallelujah” and “How to Save a Life,” all sorts of off-key and pitchy. I may or may not have cried a bit. And I know it sounds so sappy and very ‘Hollywood,’ but really I felt so much better the next day. Sure, I still felt terrible, and I still had to face the reality that I had received a rejection, but the stress and panic and dejection that had sprung up due to the initial rejection was gone. I felt better — if there’s even such a way to feel ‘better’ right away.

But nowadays, this is how I deal with all my rejections, albeit with a little less sap. If I don’t get accepted into an internship or job, I put my night plans on hold and I go out to a nice fatty dinner and I eat away. I go home and play video games. I find some way to take it off my mind so that when I have to come back to that fateful email, it doesn’t sting as much.

Before I conclude, though, I should clarify. I’m not promoting self-hate or self-degradation. That would be very unhealthy and would not help you one bit. But instead, accept the disappointment that you have from your rejection, and do whatever you need to do to get over that fact.

For me, it was singing. For others, it might be eating or going to the gym. I’m not saying obsess over the fact that you did not get accepted, but I’m also not saying you need to find a silver lining in the dark cloud that has engulfed your life for the time being. Just live your time under that cloud for whatever it’s worth, and wait for it to pass. Storms are temporary, so you might as well enjoy the rain, right?