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To Validating The Rejection Blues

TW: Metaphorical Stabbing


I think we as humans are constantly striving to be in a place, be it among people, with our jobs or just in life where we belong and rejections drive this fear further. They make us question our place in this sometimes heartbreaking, ungiving world.


The comedian, Emily Winter says in her brilliant article I Got Rejected 101 Times, “I made it my 2018 New Year’s resolution to get 100 professional rejections,” and further states the motto behind it “I’d convinced myself that this experiment would shield me from the pain of individual rejections, and guess what? It didn’t.” Like her Rejection Resolution, the rejections I faced without a resolution whatsoever made me think I could grow immune to them too. Now, not just taking her word on it but also knowing it myself that every single rejection – tiny or mighty, damn well hurts.

Image from The Irish Times

Psychologist Guy Winch wrote in his article, scientists found that “The same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. That’s why even small rejections hurt more than we think they should.” For lack of a better metaphor or the urge to go with the cliched, being rejected each time feels like getting stabbed. And to go on living with those stab wounds with zero assurance that you won’t be stabbed in the very same place even before your wounds have healed. And every time, even though I know better, it feels like the end of the world for a while.

Illustration by Dawn Kim for TED

I’ve been analyzing rejection emails lately. Some of which come with the subject line “Your application is rejected.” Now, this is what happens when we let computers write emails to humans – they can be brutal. The worst are the ones that never reach your mailbox and it’s been months since you applied, so you probably don’t need a written acknowledgement to be convinced. And I do understand that it isn’t feasible for all companies to always send out rejection emails to every single candidate but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier for me. What I really appreciate is carefully crafted personalized rejection emails. It sounds like too much work but it helps. And I’d jump in at the prospect of a job to write such emails.

More often than not the rejections aren’t personal, they don’t imply “I am not good enough.” Most times they are just collateral damage and assuming that when I cannot possibly know the reason is difficult at times. Being the self-critic that I am, I take it personally at that moment. I know this might not be healthy but not-gonna-lie, this is how I feel. As life goes by, my attention finds a new home and slowly crawls out of this one.

Image by Dzana Serdarevic for Unsplash

Rejection in all its forms – hurts. The intensity may vary when you get rejected for your dream job which you know you aren't good enough for yet to a friend not reading the mind-blowing poem you sent to your best piece not getting published. Even getting rejected at a job you didn't really want in the first place hurts, believe me, I’ve tried. Sometimes it hurts for a while, sometimes longer than that. I wish I didn't have to go through this pain but I accept that there isn't an escape from this. So, I let it dampen my spirits for a while and then I don't.

Tell me, when hope seems like a bird perched on a faraway tree in a dense jungle and you don’t know whether it is singing because you cannot hear it from where you are, in those moments what makes you put your faith in it?

Rushali Thacker (she/her) claims to have her unwavering love for sunsets, ice cream, and mountains. She'd be more than willing to spend her life in the mountains reading, writing, soaked in music, and never having to miss a sunset. You can find her on Instagram.

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