Today, I faced a lot of rejection. Normally I have thicker skin and am able to bounce back fairly quickly, but for some reason today the hits just kept on coming and by this afternoon I was thoroughly discouraged and mentally drained.
As I sat at my computer, closing my email and all the other tabs I had open from doing all my research, I was filled with the urge to reach for the bottle of wine on my shelf and numb my woes.
However, as I sat there staring at my computer screen, I started to become even more annoyed at the fact that I had spent so much time writing and applying to jobs that morning that I hadn’t gotten anything else on my to-do list crossed off. And now I faced another day, another week, another month? of failure and job hunting. I looked at my list, and wondered irritably if it would be so bad if I skipped everything and just got wine-drunk.
Except I knew ultimately that wouldn’t make me feel better. It would make me feel happy and numb for a while, and then I would go to bed, and I would wake up tomorrow still with a list of things to do, probably still discouraged, and potentially now with a headache (depending on how many glasses deep I wanted to dive).
Contemplating that future and resorting to giving myself a stern pep talk, I grumpily decided that if I was going to have the wine then I should at least complete something on my list first. I glanced through the list and settled on the last item. Exercise. A string of curses erupted in my head, but I knew from past experience that getting my body moving and releasing those endorphins truly did make me feel better, even if I hated it the entire time it was happening. There’s a reason it lands on my list most days.
Begrudgingly I put on some pump-up music before I could change my mind, slid into a sports bra and shoes, and went outside. All you have to do is run around the neighborhood a bit, I told myself, knowing I needed at the very least to get my heart pumping. I started running, thinking of all the jobs that had turned me down in the past months, all the people who said I wasn’t good enough, all the people I wanted to prove myself to and all the reasons I shouldn’t have to.
I ran exactly 1.2 miles, and arrived back at my house panting, sweaty, and undeniably pleased with myself. I did it. Not a marathon, but certainly better than nothing.
And… it worked. I felt a little better, and while I stripped down, guzzled water, and started the shower, I put in a load of laundry. Then I showered, dressed, heated up leftovers for dinner and cleaned the kitchen. One little task led to another little task, and somehow through the course of the evening I managed to get most of the things on my list done, without another grumble.
At seven o’clock I sat back down at my computer, and caught sight of the wine bottle again. Without a shred of guilt, I stood again and poured myself a glass, this time with a sense of relieved accomplishment rather than self-pity.
We all have bad days, and sometimes rejection can get the better of us. It stings, and it’s disheartening, but sometimes I think it can also be a great teacher. It’s that push you need to remind you that no one else is going to care about your work as much as you do, so above all else you have to believe in it, and in yourself.
This is my life and if I want to makes things happen, I can’t let rejection and other people’s opinions dictate how I’m going to react every time. I choose how I move forward, and how I learn from it. I can choose to ignore the world and turn to a band-aid fix on my feelings like getting drunk (and I’ll be honest – that’s definitely happened!), but I don’t want that to be my go-to move, and I don’t want running away and numbing myself to be how I live my life.
Sometimes all that’s needed is to take one tiny step forward. Even if it’s painful, one little step turns into another, then turns into a bigger step forward, and before you know it, you’re moving in the right direction again and that rejection is a thing of the past.
I’m still annoyed about my work not getting accepted, and those jobs passing me up for someone else. But it just means I have to keep trying.
Bouncing back is a skill that can be learned. Learn from the people who said no, and keep working on yourself and standing firm in who you are. Hold onto your vision, make the moves, and success will follow.
That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.