First Taste of Rejection

September 15, 2015

Oh, bittersweet.



The Millennials are known for a lot of things. We have been labeled the least religious, most educated, least hopeful and the most Internet-savvy generation the world has seen thus far. Yet, what we may be best known for are our participation trophies. No one can ever lose in a generation where our parents ensure we feel successful in every endeavor we attempt. However, “leaving the nest” where we have been so protected from the realities of a far-from-perfect world, we all are forced to encounter these rejections. The most brutal and unexpected rejections occur in college. Whether it be during recruitment, trying out for, or not being recruited for a college sport, denied from a major, or a college itself, unaccepted by friend groups, or rejected by clubs, organizations, it is bound to happen to the best of us. Yet, without the prior experience, or the parental guidance to wade through the confusion, it can be difficult to accept and understand. When the world knocks you down, when it denies you your participation trophies, when you lose confidence in yourself, here are what you need to know to make it through.


1. Ignore it: Do not place your self-confidence in the hands of people who couldn’t care less about you as a person.


Time after time, they will crush you in order to get ahead. To many, the ladders of success are built by the crushed spirits of others. Strongly root yourself in your faith in yourself and belief in something greater. Do not let anyone or anything strip you of these two because they will always lift you up when you get knocked down. Or, in the words of Millennial philosopher, Taylor Swift, "'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play. And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake. I shake it off, I shake it off." Ignore the fact that other people cannot understand what you are capable of. In fact, there are times we do not even understand what we are capable of. Understand that this is not a race to the top, or an obstacle course where we are forced to knock out our competitors. This is a journey. It is a journey that is full of potholes that give you a flat tire, mountains that you cannot climb alone, and valleys where you feel alone and broken. Yet, surrounding yourself with people with the same mindset, beliefs, hopes, and aspirations as you will give you companionship and a partner for times when you can no longer go it alone.


2. Use it: Let rejection fuel you.


It happens to everyone: Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Dr. Seuss are among a few of those who have failed and been rejected and yet still managed to build massive successes. The difference is that they used their rejection to make themselves better instead of drowning in their self-pity and lack of faith. Sometimes rejection may mean we need to turn in a different direction and try other options, like Einstein. What might have happened if he continued to apply for other colleges, rather than researching the speed of light? It does not mean he quit trying, it means he tried smarter. Yet, sometimes rejection does means that we need to try harder. It means we are not going to get a trophy for just showing up. It means we have to work for it, to try again and again, until it's our work and perseverance that is rewarded and not our luck and natural talent.


3. Learn from it: Learn how not to treat people. Strategize ways to succeed next time.


It took Thomas Edison over 1,000 unsuccessful attempts to develop a functioning light bulb. I can guarantee that he did not continue to try the same first model over and over again, believing that next time it might just work. So you got rejected from the sorority you wanted? Next time you walk into the room/house for another sorority, talk about different things you have done in your life or that are important to you. Try other tactics. Implement new game plans. So you got denied from your dream football program? Improvise your highlight film, consult other coaches about your letters to the directors, and implement other ways to get noticed. Make it a lesson learned, rather than an embarrassing wound. Let it humble you so that success will taste sweeter. Let it teach you it’s not all about winning; sometimes the losses are what really matter.


One of our favorite childhood characters, Chris Gardner from the "Pursuit of Happiness" said, “ You got a dream...You gotta protect it. People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want somethin', go get it. Period.


Rejection is not the end of the world. Believe me when I say that though it may feel like that now, victory is coming. Anyone can participate, but only a real fighter will sustain a blow, get back up and try again.

[Originally published at]

Gracin JohnsonComment