Raise your hand if you've ever wanted something in your life? While I can't see you, I presume anyone who is reading this has their hand raised. Now, keep your hand up if everything that you've ever wanted, wished for, asked for--you've gotten. I presume most hands are down. Before you go all sad-clown on me, remember the times that you wished for something that later on you thought PHEW I'm glad that one didn't happen (like that kid you had a crush on in kindergarten that turned out to be quite a questionable character later on in life..) The point I'm trying to make - we need to rethink "rejection".
There's quite a few Ted Talks on this and a number of motivational speakers, life coaches and others telling you how to manage that pit in your stomach when the thing that you really wanted doesn't happen like you thought/hoped it would. I've heard the following - rejection is redirection and rejection is protection. I quite like these, mostly because I like things that rhyme - they are catchy, easy to turn into an Instagram post and the right amount of tweet characters. That said, in listening to people talk about these concepts I felt like it wasn't honouring of the individuals and the fact that either their heart was broken, or that there were dreams shattered, or opportunities taken away, or that perhaps even their livelihood was as well. Not all "rejection" is the dealing with a broken heart, some "rejection" is now worrying how you're going to put food on the table.
I'm not going to tell you "life isn't fair" as I'm sure lots of people have told you that before and it isn't sufficient enough explanation for life's outcomes--though it is true.
Instead I'm going to move a bit more upstream and talk about how to manage rejection--not IF it happens, but WHEN it happens. If you are going to try at anything at all in life, things will break, things will fail, things won't work out (even if you are wonderful, and smart, and lovely and kind--and I'm certain you are).
Let's start here - picture this: you're building a house and instead of many metal (or wood) studs/beams - you use only 1 or 2. You don't need to be an architect or a general contractor to know that the house with many supports will be sturdier against the elements. The same is true for disappointments and rejection. When we've built our lives around only one or two things, when those go wrong it impacts more than just the event itself, it impacts our identity. Who are we if we didn't get that award? Did get that job? Didn't win first place? Didn't get an invitation? Didn't get that promotion? Didn't win that competition? This is when "lose" turns into "loser", or "rejection" turns into "rejected". It becomes more about ourselves than the subjectivities that come with many of these types of events. However, when you fill your life with friends and family, community work, hobbies and passions, nature and self and social care - when one thing goes wrong - inevitably you'll be able to look to all your other pillars and see the fullness of your life. Those other pillars will keep you standing when you get the wind knocked out of you.
Another thing - let the wins be in the process, not just the outcome. So, if your applying for an application - find a way to do it that's joyful to you IN THE MOMENT. For example, if you're a social person - do your application with your bestfriend so you spend time together while doing your application together. If you're applying for that job - spend time sprucing up your resume so that it's in perfect shape (good to send to another other jobs if needed), if you're getting ready to audition for Canada's Got Talent - vlog the journey! In each of these cases, no matter what the outcome, you didn't have sacrifices with your joy in the present moment....and in the latter case, you might end up being a huge influencer even if you're not the competition winner. I'm not suggesting that you don't need to work hard for things, but another thing that hits is when we don't get reap the rewards for our efforts, we are often filled with regret for the things that we gave up/the people we didn't spend time with, the events we missed, the relationships with lost, the dimished health...whatever it may be. It's easier to swallow these things when we have a positive outcome, but so much worse when we don't. So, make intentional steps when you put yourself in the arena - cultivate the activity so you can reap the benefits in the moment where you can so that regardless of the outcome, you aren't filled with regret as well.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly - have someone to 'hold you down.' That person that says - "THAT SUCKS! YOU DESERVED THAT! I'm so sorry that what you've worked so hard is not being recognized and rewarded." The person that says, if you want to try again - I'll be there to support - whatever you need. The person that says, I wish I could take the pain away but you don't need to rush out of this place. Knowing that it's okay to feel what you feel and that you are loved not for your "winnings" but for who you are - is often a cureall to most emotional aches and pains.
Rejection may be redirection, it may be protection it may be a host of things but at the end of the day it hurts. It hurts to feel powerless to change the outcome of what you wanted. It hurts to feel like you "wasted your time for nothing." It hurts to feel like you don't know which way to turn because the door you thought would be open to you has since closed. This is not going to turn into a cliche of - when one door closes another window opens, instead, it's a gentle reminder that you are profoundly amazing. As are all the creatures on this planet that we marvel at. You have the ability (though it is hard) to pick yourself up, to dust yourself off and to know there is more than this that lies ahead for you even if you don't feel that way right now.
This grant, application, job, relationship, scholarship, award - does not define you. You are so much more - you are literally made of stardust my friend (Carl Sagan says so) and don't you forget that. And if you do-come back and re-read this post, it will be here waiting.
Love and hugs,