This is a portion of an article that originally appeared in Sesi’s Fall 2018 issue. Subscribe here to stay up on our current editions.
Rejection can feel like a legit bully, ripping away at your self-esteem. But, what if we told you that the “r” word, isn’t all that bad and can actually be used as a motivating tool, pushing you toward achieving your goals? #IssaFact.
From auditions to academics to social circles to crushes — life is full of opportunities for rejection to pop up and not let you be great. But it doesn’t have to keep you shook forever. Facing rejection also has a unique way of toughening your skin and building your character. “Rejection or any of those sorts of things that happen in life that may be looked at as the worst scenario or worst thing that can happen, it shapes you if you look at it in a positive way,” says Dr. Scyatta Wallace, psychologist and founder of the Janisaw Company, which specializes in leadership development, life skills, and healthy lifestyle programs for teen girls and young women. “It’s OK to feel disappointed initially, but make sure you don’t constantly ruminate on how bad you’re feeling. You really want to, as best as possible, get out of thinking about it like, ‘Oh my god, they rejected me!” she continues. “Don’t repeat [and] internalize the negative thoughts.”
Instead, try to find out where the “no” came from and learn from that, suggests Dr. Wallace. “Is it that the way you approached the situation led to the ‘no’? Is it that it’s not the right scene or person for you?” Don’t worry, you don’t have to figure this all out alone. We’re comin’ through with a few tips to help you navigate these growing pains by flipping the script on rejection and making it work to your advantage. And because writing and music are a few of our immediate go-tos when in need of a #mood boost, we also tossed in some throwback tracks that will lift your spirits and get you back in “go” mode.
Image + Identity
The Rejection: We’re all in this world discovering and becoming who we want to be. Styles, personalities, and interests are going to be hella different. There will be times when others won’t accept or like the way you present yourself, and they may be intentional on making it known that they don’t rock with you. When this happens, it can be easy to shut down and search for unhealthy ways to alter your appearance and change things about yourself to fit in and please others.
The Flip: Just. Do. You. “Make sure that you don’t take [another person’s rejection of you] personally, even if the person makes it personal … Do your best to say, ‘That’s not about me. I’m still good,’” says Dr. Wallace. “It’s kind of like a reminder of who you are and your power.” From your intellect and personality to the way your lashes curl or your skin is accented with freckles to how your style draws attention because it’s bold, funky, and different, the important thing is that you like you. Nurture the parts of you that strengthen your confidence and put a smile on your face.
The Listen: Brandy | “Movin’ On”
Dating + Relationships
The Rejection: You’re crushing hard on someone, and when you finally build the courage to slide in their DM’s or shoot your shot through a text message, your crush goes ghost and leaves you hanging without a response. Or they tell you flat out, “I’m not interested.” It’s natural to want to close yourself off and run down a list of everything that must be wrong with you (aka getting extra with the self-sabotage), but that can lead to a path of dark, destructive behavior. Peep the flip, so you can avoid hitting a low point.
The Flip: Give the person space, and allow yourself to acknowledge your feelings and cry it out. “It’s normal to feel a little disappointed if it’s somebody that you like, or somebody that you want to be included with, or something that you want to be a part of and it doesn’t work out,” says Dr. Wallace. “It’s really how you bounce back from it. That’s the most important thing.” Call your girls and anyone else you trust for support. They’ll be quick to remind you just how bomb you really are. Relationships aren’t easy, but they can provide another opportunity to learn more about you.
The Listen: Janelle Monáe | “Q.U.E.E.N”
School + Academia
The Rejection: From receiving a low grade on a school project, test, or paper you studied hard for to mustering up the courage to try out for a sports team and not making it to applying for the internship you’ve had your heart set on for quite some time and not being considered, the school scene can dish hard-hitting blows that make you to want to give up and stop trying. A web of self-doubt has you questioning your abilities, and suddenly, the enthusiasm is gone.
The Flip: Tbh, though, the worst thing you can do is quit. Avoid allowing fear of rejection to keep you from what opportunities may lie ahead. This life-and-achieving-goals thing is a hustle. “You just have to keep putting yourself back out there,” Dr. Wallace encourages. “[For example, say to yourself] ‘I didn’t get that summer job. I’m going to apply for another one. I’m going to apply to as many as I can, until I find the right one.'” The power moves in this case: revise strategy, put new plan in action, and know you are worthy.
The Listen: China Anne McClain | “Unstoppable”
Social + Interactions
The Rejection: You want to roll with a certain crew, but they’re not welcoming you with open arms. Maybe you weren’t tagged in an Instagram photo, or you weren’t invited to last weekend’s house party. What’s up with that? Wanting to feel accepted is natural; we all go through it on some level. When you feel stripped of that, it can cause a major sting to the ego.
The Flip: Log off for a bit and live your life. Go where you’re comfortable being you and don’t have to put on a front to fit in — nobody wins at the end of that game. Talk to someone who has your best interests at heart and will genuinely listen. “You have to remind yourself as to why you’re still good and you’re still going to be great regardless,” says Dr. Wallace. “It might give you the courage to start your own group or find another one that you’d be more welcomed to … Find what you can do to make the situation positive. That’s how you can build character.”
The Listen: Destiny’s Child | “So Good”
“Everyone goes through many rejections [in life]. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t good enough. It doesn’t mean that [you] aren’t going to make it,” explains Dr. Wallace. “It’s kind of like you put yourself out there and be courageous, and the skill is really continuing to do that. Be persistent in pursuing your goals, regardless if you get that [one] opportunity or not.”
Images by Mauro Grigollo/Stocksy