Being rejected for every internship I applied for did not align with my summer fantasy. As a mature undergrad, I expected my CV, already sprinkled with transferrable skills, would barge me first place through the door of something…anything. I’d finish work at five, humble brag to my buds back home about all the clever and important stuff I was doing, and my bank account and brain would bustle with growth. It would be hot. England would have won the Euros. Ice cream sandwiches would be sold on every corner. Anyway…regale I didn’t get a single interview. In the end, I stopped actually telling people I was applying for internships, because it was so dang embarrassing - you know, all the failure?

I’ve failed before. I used to be an actress, so rejection was my bread’n’butter. I had thought, back in those days, that at some point I’d just become immune to it all because it was so frequent. Turns out not. Turns out that I just cycled through the process of it quicker.

Here, my fellow rejectee lambs, I shall regale you with what that process looks like. The one honed over years of emails beginning with the gut-punch word “unfortunately…”

“The first step is admitting. “Hi everyone, my name is Amy and I’ve been rejected”.”

1. Accepting the rejection. Easier said than done. The crazy in me will bargain…maybe they sent the email to the wrong person? Maybe they’re not ghosting my application, but just running a little late in making me an offer I can’t refuse? The first step is admitting. “Hi everyone, my name is Amy and I’ve been rejected”.

2. Feeling the pain of it. Yes, at first, I’ll be like “OhwellIdidn’treallywantitmuchanyway!” and kiss my teeth and roll my eyes and not move a single facial muscle. LIAR. You did. That is why you applied. Once I get past the lying to myself, I can hear my true feelings. “Ouchie ouchie ow,” they usually say. I’ve been rejected, and my fantasy has crumbled to biscuit dust. Guarding my heart might be much needed at this time (so long Facebook, and all the unavoidable brag-a-lots!).

3. Sharing the pain. Now, here’s where a road bump crops up for me, from time to time. For me, it wouldn’t be that I don’t want to share, it’s that there is something that stops me: shame. The low self-esteem fuelled perfectionist in me is embarrassed that I got rejected. It’s as if it defines me, through validated scientific proof, as an inept toad-person, incapable of success or jobs or winning. Being this toad person is illegal in a push-push-go-faster-be-better-competitive society. To share this position is vulnerable and runs the risk that my loved ones may think less of me, should they judge me using those eyes. Toxic thinking, I know. It is Brene Brown’s take I turn to on this:

“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”

And, to stay stuck in a place of shame is heaping hurt upon hurt. So, I share, no matter how much my ego protests against it. In doing so I receive connection, support and understanding. I empathise with myself and give myself comfort too. This loving space gives me the strength to recoup. After pushing through the battlefield of shame, I arrive at the next step.

4. Taking the lesson or the blessing. I’ve been rejected from something. What can I gain from this one-way ticket to sucktopia?

“There is something to take from each rejection and I suppose if nothing else, they do make those acceptances feel that much sweeter.”

  1. The rejection itself could have been a blessing. Synchronicity happens in weird ways at times, and really, when one door closes, necessary windows sometimes do open. Sometimes you only realise that looking back. The whole, “Rejection is redirection,” thing.
  2. The rejection may teach me a lesson. It might be possible to learn something about oneself, to gain feedback and understand why the rejection happened. The reason may be specific to my skills or the role, but at other times not. Sometimes the picky-choosers just had rubbish taste and I feel sorry for them. Other types of lessons to be learned could be how I react to rejection, or how I care for myself emotionally, as mentioned above. Maybe the only lesson is that I wanted the role so badly that the disappointment leads me to eat three ice cream sandwiches and order McDonalds at midnight the day I open the rejection email. Therefore, I learn that I should apply for similar roles in future (but delete UberEats!).

5. Moving on. When ready, I move on. Sometimes I’m a bitter Betty for a day about it, or even a week. Sometimes I have dreams where I got the thing I was rejected for (Why, subconscious WHY?). Sometimes I write moany-groanbag articles about it. But from each rejection, ultimately, I move on. There is something to take from each rejection and I suppose if nothing else, they do make those acceptances feel that much sweeter.


Mountain View

AskVulture: How do I stop ‘burning the candle at both ends’?

I’m in that moving-on place now, having transitioned on from my rejection obstacle course and been birthed into the summer. Pipped to the post for positions that I really wanted by students ten years younger than me (though good on them!). I’ve embraced the time I have and am filling it with things that are necessary and important for me and my growth right now. Nobody around me is judging me but myself- though if they are, they’re all too British to tell me to my face, so, it doesn’t count anyway. Sure, this particular fantasy did not play out; I was met with rejection. But with rejection, I often find, the reality is not as bad as I feared.