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This post is about what it feels to be rejected.

How much it hurts, robs us of serenity, knocks the air out of our lungs and

how feeling it…

is a sign that we’re on the right path.

Intrigued? Read on.

It’s indescribably hard to learn that someone doesn’t feel for you what you feel for them. It can be

heartbreaking when a potential employer chooses another candidate. Having your submission passed over by your favorite literary magazine? Devastating. It’s even worse when you get the nice

personalized, “it’s not you – it’s me” rejections. There is nothing to learn in these letdowns; nothing

beyond “keep trying.”

And how exactly do you keep trying when you’re down in the dirt, distraught and frenzied, when you’re on the verge of giving up? Rejection rears its ugly head in my life on a fairly regular basis. From losing a friend I thought had my back to learning that a partner valued his feelings over my safety. From being told my story wasn’t the right fit for a publication to being told in so many words that I was incapable of doing a job I’d done for years. Rejection has been an almost-constant companion in my life.

So how do I keep going? And more importantly, why?

The answer is perhaps profound in its simplicity: the appearance of rejection does not always mean the presence of rejection, and while the feeling of it is very real, it also means I’m on the right path.

The feeling of rejection means I tried, fell, tried again, fell, kept trying, not letting anything keep me from scaling the mountain, even if the going was slow, unsteady, arduous, and more than a little painful.

People who don’t try don’t experience the feeling of rejection; it is what unites the victors when they achieve their goals or find that they want to pursue new ones altogether. Winners must experience defeat and regroup time and time again before they drink from the chalice of success.

Recently, I applied for a position I was more than qualified to do. I looked forward to receiving a yes at long last, to leaving a workplace that had become toxic.

I received a no instead.

It was a kind no. The kind of no that nearly screams that you were the runner-up, that they wanted to hire you too, that you came very close.

It was the no that hurts the worst. I cried. I raged. I vented to friends. I ate macaroni and cheese

out of a box for dinner (a rarity for me.) I slept. I took the next day off. I stood back up, a little shakily I’ll admit. And I reminded myself of one key truth: I was not rejected. My application was simply not chosen.

If those last lines seem to contradict the rest of this post, read what I write again. The appearance of rejection. The feeling of rejection.

Language matters. How we speak to ourselves matters. Not every decision is personal. Even the definition of the word itself makes clear that rejection has its roots in an act of throwing back, refusing to accept. It is not just accepting. It is refusing to accept. Rejection is forceful. So are our emotions. How much more pain do we cause by failing to see the ways in which we attribute rejection when it is simply not selecting?

There are 3 important aspects to, I was not rejected. My application was not chosen.

1. I was not personally rejected.

2. My application not being selected hits differently than suggesting that it was forcefully rejected.

3. I admit that I don’t know the other candidates and their experiences and trials. The candidate

who was chosen might have been where I now find myself 5 years ago. Making assumptions

based on incomplete information benefits no one in the end.

One day my application will be selected. More of my writing will be accepted. I will meet the person I am meant to build a life with.

If. I. Keep. Trying.

If. I. Show. Up. For. Myself.

If. I. Allow. Myself. To. Cry. In. The. Dirt. But. Make. A. Promise. To. Myself.

Always. To. Stand .Back. up.

The same goes for you. All of you.

Never forget – Feeling rejection is a sign that you care, that you’re invested, that you’re present. And that is always a sign that you’re on the right path. Even if you learn that you need to change course, your path led you to that juncture. To choose persistence in the face of adversity, so long as your self is at the center of that drive; that is always the right path. If the feeling of rejection does anything for you, then let it reinforce that fundamental truth.

So keep going. I’ll meet you on the other side.

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