Rejection Isn’t the End of the World

Checking your email is sometimes like winning the lottery—what you get each day is just a matter of luck. Once and a while, you might get an email from a professor saying that class is cancelled, and at other times an email might be that sorry reminder that a course assignment was due sooner than you had thought. Whatever it might be, it just depends on the luck of the draw.

A few months ago, I applied for a corps member position at City Year, which connects young people like me to a year of full-time service to keep students in low-income areas in school and on track to high school graduation. Up until now I was pretty optimistic of my chances, seeing all that I have to offer and how much I want to learn.

Then today, like five seconds ago at 8:13 a.m. on Friday the 21st, I opened an email from City Year telling me that they were “unable to offer a position at this time.” While I was a “high-quality” applicant who demonstrated “the spirit of national service,” I would not be moving on to the next rounds of the application process. Cue the internal groaning and eating ice cream while wondering what I could have done to make my application stronger. Because I really wanted that position—civic engagement and social injustice are issues I am so desperately passionate about, and just like that, it was blown away from sight.

There are a two lessons I’d like to bring your attention to from my experiences.

First, rejection is never the end of the world. I’ll even go so far as to say that rejection can be the best kind of medicine. Yes—I am referring to those of us who could use a slice of homemade humble pie once in a while, but I’m also talking about those who might need that extra motivation that pushes us to see what we truly want. If I’d never rejected the idea that I wanted to be a lawyer, then I would have never decided to major in communication and find something that I am really excited to argue about: women’s and gender issues and social injustices brought on by hegemonic discourses like “The American Dream.”

Which brings me to the second point: just because something doesn’t work out the first try doesn’t mean you aren’t meant for it. If you are equally passionate about politics, women’s issues, health care, the environment or any other issue, don’t let one “No” get in the way of what you want. I got rejected from a social media internship at this women’s rights lobbyist group last summer, one that would’ve really bolstered my network and resume. But just because I wasn’t accepted didn’t mean I was going to drop all of the interest I have for women’s rights! I still try and try again, whether it be applying or post-graduate careers or finding volunteer opportunities, to keep my passion for women’s issues going strong. One rejection won’t stop me, and it shouldn’t stop you.

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