I hate rejection. Rejection sucks. Even though I’ve been rejected more than I care to remember in my life, every time it happens it’s like someone rips my heart out of my chest. It’s not that nothing good happens between rejections. Truth be told, a lot of wonderful things happen. I’ve had more successes than failures. Rejections remind you that you’re alive and willing to try new things. It still blows though. Nobody likes to be turned down.
My recent bout with rejection stems from being on an extensive job search for my next career opportunity. It’s funny what your mind tells your inner you when you get rejected. You better have plenty of positive mantras stored up to respond to all the bullshit lies your own brain spits at you. Maybe it’s your ID or your EGO that’s hurt and offended? Or maybe it’s even my SUPER-EGO? How dare they didn’t hire me? What are they thinking? You loser. Nobody likes coming in second. Do they?
Rejection fosters resilience and nurtures perseverance. Even when I was a kid studying classical piano, I hated coming in second. I strived for first, even though I didn’t always get it. By the time I was a junior in high school I had opportunities to study at Berklee College of Music, Julliard, and Oberlin. At the end of my junior year I had earned honorable mention in an international piano recording competition. Honorable mention? You might as well not have mentioned me at all, I recall thinking. Turned out that the Lord had other plans. I certainly can’t play like I did back then now. But I keep trying.
Rejection sucks. After I spent some time in radio and tv broadcasting I learned some more about rejection, as if my first Valentine (a girl named Sandy) turning me down in 2nd grade wasn’t sad enough. I put together audition tapes, only to have someone else get the job, or not even warrant a call-back (that’s when employers used to call instead of reject you via email or text). Those were the days.
Certainly, as an aspiring writer, I have had my share of rejection. Almost published doesn’t count for much. Getting published in a newsletter or on an online site doesn’t quite compare to writing the Great American Novel. No sir.
Spending nearly 25 years in the food business, I faced rejection daily. Every shift provided the potential for rejection. What if the food wasn’t perfect tonight? What if somebody had a bad dining experience? What if people didn’t come back? What if nobody shows up to eat tonight? In the restaurant business you earn your stripes every single shift. You’re literally only as good as your last meal served. It doesn’t matter if you served 1000 meals well on Saturday night. When you open the doors Tuesday evening with a loud whimper and resounding thud, the high from Saturday dissipates quickly. You go from hero to hell-hole in a hurry. The experience that went sour dampens previous glory. Keep in mind, for a good chunk of that 25 years, I ran an iconic, world-renowned Texas restaurant. Yet there was never time to rest on our laurels. For every Saturday night that had crowds standing three deep and snaked around the corner, came a Tuesday night marked with tumbleweeds blowing down Oak Street. Who cares if you were featured in Southern Living Magazine last month or that you were named Best of Fort Worth consecutive years running. That was then. This is now. Sick, right?
I don’ think the team that lost the Super Bowl feels any better than the team that finished last in the league. Do you really think Tiger Woods is happy that he’s improving his game even though he’s no longer winning like he once did? I bet not. As great a player as he may be, Bron-Bron ain’t happy losing to the Golden State Warriors. I promise you that.
But rejection isn’t all bad.
Rejection has a way of making you more determined to succeed. You bounce back up. You get back in the saddle. You press on. Rejection builds your resilience and perseverance.
I’ve spent a good deal of the Spring job-hunting, hoping to find the next big thing God wants me to do. One recent search led to my being selected to the final round of six candidates, out of 400+ vying for the job. Then there were four. Then only two. Everything in the process went well. My interviews sparked chemistry. My assigned project was an immense success. On Sunday morning I was hopeful. But, Tuesday they informed me that they offered the gig to one of the other candidates. Disappointed? Yes. Dejected? Sure.
There are no good feelings about not getting the job. But, I’m not defeated. I’ll brush myself off just like I did when I learned how to ride a bike and pedal forward.
How about you?