How I learned to love rejection

The other night, a girl I met recently and was interest in rejected me, and I feel great about it.

Yes, rejection is a great thing. Contrary to what the rest of the world feels initially about rejection, there’s a lot of potential to learn and empower yourself from being rejected.


Before I start, I’m going to relate a story (which I also once had up here and as a vlog on youtube, but it got deleted). When I worked in a call center, my trainer was telling us a little anecdote about self-rejection, which is terrible in of itself, but even worse in a career that is trite with rejection, telefundraising. When your self-worth is measured by other people accepting you or rejecting you, then that’s an easy way to kill your self-confidence.

He related to me how his friend, a lovely woman, said “Joseph, if the first word out of someone’s mouth isn’t ‘please’ and the last words aren’t ‘thank you’, then you don’t need them! You know why? Because you are FABULOUS. I want you to do this: when you wake up in the morning, the first thing you say to yourself is ‘fabulous’. When you look in the mirror after you shower, ‘fabulous’. Before you step out the door to start your day, ‘fabulous’.” Shortly after he started doing that, he began having people call him fabulous, even though they never heard him use the word. Subsequently, I quit, because I realized my self-worth: I was rejecting myself by subjecting myself to that job and thinking I couldn’t do better than that, so I left and felt fabulous.

Moral of the story is, don’t set yourself up for any less because you don’t feel worthy of better. This is the first level of rejection that you need to overcome before you can start learning to love it.

Freedom from expectation, anxiety, and uncertainty

Whether you’re waiting six months to hear from the school you applied to, counting days that become weeks for the job interview you just had, or seeing if that girl or guy you met at a party will call you back to go out with you, if you’re still rejecting yourself, then it’s torture. The whole “Oh god, I haven’t heard from them, they don’t want me” is a feeling worse than the actual rejection because you don’t know, and you assume the worst but hope for the best.

One part of that I enjoy is the assumption of the worst and hope for the best, because by being proactive, I prepare myself to deal with the worst when it comes, and have a safety net to fall back on as a result. The problem with the way most people handle it is that they are not taking any action while assuming the worst, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when the rejection comes.

Moving up to the next level, if you see that the rejection has come and it’s final, then you are free because it’s the end of any further effort or action for that path. No more concern with “what if?” because now you get to focus on reality. However, if you really want something badly, then rejection has another purpose.

Helping to define what you really want

When I really want something and I’m rejected, one of two situations can happen. The first is that I find every alternative way to get what I want, whether it’s the girl, the job, or into school. In the example of graduate school, I researched everything I could about professors, the program, and how to make a profile for the ideal candidate, and had an appeal letter ready in the event I was rejected. I had a plan b which was to have me spend another year or two preparing to improve my profile so that I could get into graduate school. Fortunately, for me, I got in to my top choice program, but it was that preparation for rejection and for how to deal with it that somehow gave admissions that impression that they must take me.

The second scenario is that I can ask myself what I really wanted. I determined that for the most part, I wouldn’t actually need to go to graduate school. What did I really want? I wanted to work for an NGO and live overseas. I realized I didn’t have to work for the United Nations, have a graduate degree or anything–my other options were to 1) volunteer and use that experience as leverage to get into an NGO, 2) actually go to the countries I wanted to work in and see what organizations were there (many do not have websites) and apply to all I was interested in working for, and 3) realize I don’t have to be in an NGO to help save the world.

Using these two examples, you can find if you really want something badly and it forces you to do the work to get it; or you can see what you really want and find another way to get it, whether it’s through another school or different means.

Get rejected more

If I get rejected once, I make it a point to get rejected at least nine more times on the day I got rejected, and then shoot for twenty rejections the next day, thirty the day after, and so on. By the law of statistics, eventually, someone is not going to reject me, and it shows persistence. Now, when I say I’m trying to get rejected, I don’t mean I’m going to try and fill in my rejection quota, I mean to say that I will apply to ten, twenty, or thirty jobs, ask out that many girls, and so on, all with the hopes that each one I apply to or ask out will take me.

However, I won’t compromise my standards, so if there just aren’t enough girls or the jobs I’m seeing openings for aren’t to my liking, then I don’t bother. It’s better to be single than in a bad relationship, it is better to have more free time to look for better jobs than to waste your skills and expertise you acquired just folding clothes in some retail outlet. Persistence pays off, but you should always strive for the best. No Olympic athlete goes in hoping for just a bronze medal, and by the same token, you should try your best simply because you want the best, otherwise, you’re wasting your time and potential.

Lastly, when you get rejected a lot, it can also be taken as a sign that you need to work on something. When you are completely confident in yourself and still getting rejected a lot, it may be time to consider there may be something for you to improve on instead of being over-confident. So being rejected a lot can be a good humbling experience.

It’s usually never personal

When your skill set or your personality just don’t match, it isn’t that something is wrong with you, it’s that they want the person most appropriate for the job, a girl has a specific type of guy she’s looking for, or maybe you just didn’t present yourself the best way you could.

Think about it this way: if you wanted to play volleyball, and it was narrowed down to two choices, you and the other kid who moves a half-second faster than you, is a little taller, and has a year more experience playing than you, then you probably can guess whom the coaches are more likely to pick. Nothing is wrong with you, it just means that you didn’t fit what they needed at the moment. That also means you can spend that time improving yourself to make yourself more competitive, as well as personally feel more confident in what you have to offer.

More time to improve and refine

If you don’t use your skills, you lose them over time. Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you should stop trying to keep your skills up to date. If you’re a Muay Thai instructor, you’re not going to stop training because no gym will hire you; no: you want to keep training and make your skills so sharp that every time you apply to teach at a gym, you can walk in and show you’re a challenge to the other trainers there if they were to take you on. Nobody hires an out of shape, out of practice trainer, and likewise, unless you continue to improve outside of work or chasing girls, you’re not going to get better. Use all your time you can.

A good analogy for this comes from playing too many video games growing up, particularly role-playing games (RPGs). Let’s say you have a group of characters who have certain personal skill levels, and every time they fight monsters or do good deeds, they gain experience (just like we do!). As they gain experience, they learn new skills and improve existing ones. Sometimes, the biggest challenge is a boss monster, who is too powerful to beat. Usually, the way to overcome this challenge is to gain levels to come in stronger with more skills and experience to win, or you need to have one useful skill that defeats the boss. So if it’s a zombie overlord and you need some sort of magic spell that the undead hate, then by using this one useful skill, you are good to go.

Expanding on that analogy, either you have all the experience you can from spending time improving yourself like video game characters in RPGs do, or you have one useful skill that will impress everyone, but ideally, you want both.


So is rejection such a bad thing? If you know how to deal with it, rejection provides more opportunities than most initially expect. With that said, I’m out to get rejected by 99 girls, so that the 100th one will be a definite yes. 😉

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