As I wrote this, the word stayed alone on the page for several days.
I nodded enthusiastically when this project was proposed, but deep down I heard a sigh.
I spent two years applying for internship- it nearly crushed me. The rejection triggered every what if? and insecurity I had. I was also angry; Why me? What am I getting out of this? Where’s the return for all I’ve invested? Here’s what was good about this, I was forced to ask the most important question about my career. IS THIS WORTH IT?
Going after a big dream means that inevitably you will be rejected. You will be rejected many times. The bigger the dream, the more rejection you’ll encounter. I once read that the pain of being rejected means that you take your work seriously (Resilience: Facing Down Rejection and Criticism on the Road to Success by Mark McGuiness has helpful tips). It’s important to you, so being told “No” is going to hurt. Rejection doesn’t mean that you’re not worthy. You’re going through what others before you have gone through to reach their goals. Here’s how I managed:
Keep Your Heart Open: Excellent advice from author Melody Beattie (Journey to the Heart). Adjusting to an internship that had chosen me, rather than my choosing it, was challenging. I reminded myself that there are always opportunities to learn and grow. This helped me to be more receptive and gave me space to learn a tremendous amount. It helped that I found an internship I really wanted, but without acceptance and openness I would have missed all it had to offer.
Meditate: No. I’m not on the mindfulness bandwagon. I began meditating when I was in college and I did it the hard way, with a candle! There are lots more user friendly options now. You’ll gain much needed clarity, decrease stress, and gain a perspective on the present.
Share: The other intern and I regularly share our experiences. It’s helped tremendously to have someone to talk to. Find someone who can appreciate your unique form of expression; if you need to laugh, cry or shout they will let you do that without judgment. Remember to do the same for them.
Plan: Think about your career as an organism living in a dynamic world, subject to the same law of uncertainty that you are. Setbacks are just colds that will soon dissipate. This is part of the process-not the end. What’s Next?
On your journey to the next great adventure remember that learning to handle rejection effectively will prime you to be even more successful during your next project. People who haven’t had a chance to learn from rejection don’t develop effective coping skills. And guess what happens to them. All Great Dreams begin with the Dreamer. Since you’re reading this you’re still here. And that’s all you need.