Remember when I told you guys that I wanted to start writing about more than just fashion, style and travel? I wanted to write about the stuff that really hits home- stuff that I've learned from my unique life experiences, stuff that I want to learn, stuff that you want to learn from me, stuff that I want to learn from you, and just stuff that I feel could lead to DMC's (Deep Meaningful Conversations)? That was a few months ago. I got confused about whether to write my new content here, or on my Fisayo Longe website, which I am relaunching, to be a 'Life Styling' destination, as opposed to a 'Fashion Styling' destination. I decided that it needs to be on here, as much as it does there.
So, let's get to it.
This is such a funny subject for me to be giving advice on because I was that girl who would lie in bed and cry for hours, recently as December last year. When I got an opportunity that worked even better for me three months later, I made a promise to myself that I would never again grovel over a missed opportunity. It has happened way too many times, and each time, three months later, I have been able to laugh when I thought back to how upset I was. Why on earth did I think that it was the end of the world?
Every rejection has a valid reason for why it happened. The opportunity just was not meant for you. Maybe it was meant to allow room for something better, maybe it was meant to force you to fix yourself, or maybe it was even protecting you from a bad situation. This will focus on rejection from educational, work and career opportunities- university, new job, job promotions. All that stuff.
1. Do not let it diminish your self-esteem: A lot of time, we attach too much of our self-worth to our educational and career achievements. You are not the university you go to. You are not the company you work for. You are not your job title. These are all things you do in life. But they are not your life. Rejection makes us feel very little- it diminishes our self-confidence, self-esteem and worth. I struggle with this deeply- I associate too much of my self-worth with my career, and it's very unhealthy. Rejection will still take a stab at your confidence, but if you have a healthier relationship with your self-esteem and realise that you shouldn't take these things too personally, you will find it a lot easier to deal with rejection.
Let me give you an example, when I was trying to make a career change from accounting to fashion, I did a million and one job applications and got a million and one rejections. I later decided to follow up on one of the applications that I hadn't had a response from and was informed that my application didn't have a CV attached to it, and so it couldn't be reviewed. The system hadn't uploaded my CV for some reason- of course I was going to get a rejection! And it would be nothing to do with my own qualifications or capabilities. Who knows how many rejections you've had where your application wasn't even reviewed? Or the position had already been filled?
Sometimes, it has nothing to do with you.
2. Identify Why You Were Rejected: When you have been rejected because you did not achieve good enough grades, you were not adequately qualified, your application wasn't strong enough, or you did not work hard or smart enough, you need to be honest with yourself about what you think was missing, and how you can improve. Sometimes, you'll be sure that you gave it all you had and you have nothing else to give, or nothing else to improve upon. When this happens, you can skip to step 4 below. But if you can be honest with yourself about why you were rejected, and work on correcting it, the pain from rejection doesn't even last long. Because you can then channel all your energy into self-improvement.
3. Improve/Strengthen your position: If you were rejected from the universities you wanted to go to, from the course you wanted to take, or from the job you wanted to work, assess whether you need to go for the next best opportunity. I'm sure being a doctor is an incredibly fulfilling job, but I have to face the fact that I just don't have good enough grades to be a doctor.
For example, when I first applied to university, I applied to study Law. I only got offers from two of the five universities I applied to- one of which was a university I was never going to go to, but was forced to apply to so that I had an insurance. I then took a gap year and re-applied to university, but this time, I applied for Law and Anthropology, the grade requirements for Law and Anthropology were lower, I believe Law and Anthropology required a minimum of AAB as opposed to A*AA, and I got unconditional offers from all five universities. Only a little change in strategy, but big results. I could still go on to Law School with a Law and Anthropology degree, it just was less popular and a little less prestigious than a traditional Law degree.
Another thing I did was to take a gap year. I didn't retake exams during this year but if I needed to, I would have. What I did was find a job- a great job at a world renowned company, which I ended up working for for the next three years. I also travelled- I explored South-East Asia and made some of my best memories. Warwick university did me a favour by rejecting me, I just didn't know it at the time.
This is also relevant to job applications. When I was sick and tired of getting job rejections, I took matters into my own hands. I upgraded my linkedin account and started to e-mail directors of the fashion companies I wanted to work for, rather than just filling in an online application. Truth is that most jobs are taken by the time that they appear online on company websites. You have to go the extra mile, and do things you would normally consider 'stalking'. I attended the Jonathan Saunders show during fashion week and spent the entire show with my eyes glued to the front row trying to spot fashion buying directors to ask for jobs. I spotted Natalie Kingham of Matches Fashion, and did just that. And she was so lovely. I never ended up working at Matches, but this was how I eventually landed my first job in fashion. If I never did this, I might very well still be spending my days trawling every single 'careers' section, putting together online applications.
It never comes to you, you just go out and take it.
4. Put Yourself Forward Again: When you are sure that you are putting your best foot forward, try again. Whether you are trying again at the exact same thing, or your next best option, you must try again. You never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game.
I know a lot of the younger people who read my blog got their A Level results yesterday, and some of you, like me, might have fallen short of their choice university's requirements. You might not be in the position where you can take a gap year, so you might have had to find another university or course through Clearing that you're not particularly thrilled about. There is nothing stopping you from re-applying to other universities during your first year. Some universities even allow you to transfer into 2nd year after 1st year at a different uni as long as you do really well during your first year, or you might even be able to change your course to something you prefer. You can also stick with what you have gotten, make the best out of those three years, do exceptionally well, and then go on to do your Masters at your dream university.
I have been known in the past to avoid certain situations or not put myself forward for certain opportunities because I thought I would get rejected. And all that that has ever done, and all it will ever do, is limit me. Life is about losing some, and winning some. The most successful people have been rejected so many times, many times even from the exact thing that brought them all the success. Because one person doesn't see what you bring to the table, or because one university doesn't think you're right for them, doesn't mean the millions of others won't.
When it comes to rejection you have to learn to accept it, don't let it take control of you or your mind, dust it off, and keep it moving.
There are way too many opportunities to chase, way too many good people to befriend, way too much life to experience, and way too much money to be made, to let a few rejections count you out.
You are more than enough, and you owe yourself more. Don't count yourself out.
If you feel that this article on How to Deal with Rejection helped you and could help anyone you know- a family member, friend, colleague, please share with them. And if you would like to, please join the conversation and share your experiences in the comment section below. I live for those DMC's we have, when we tap into discussing the stuff that really matters to us.