Thoughts On A Season of Rejection

Rejection sucks. 

I have a pretty decent track record of getting the thing I’m go after. I made the cheerleading squad in high school, got into every college I applied to for undergrad, secured the internships, got (most of) the jobs, was accepted to all four grad schools I applied to…  

Obnoxious, I know. I’m an enneagram three though, and we’re called “The Achiever” for a reason. We go hard after accomplishments and accolades. It is, quite literally, how we’re wired. Getting the job, the internship, the acceptance letter is, for better or worse, often how we measure our worth. 

Once in a while though, rejection smacks me across the face. 

I applied to a program last month that I thought I was a shoo-in for. I had the right resume. My answers to their application questions were thoughtful, authentic. I knew the organization’s history, had a clear vision for how I would apply my skills to aid their mission. I hit submit on my application and was content to wait the two or so weeks for the email confirming I had a spot. 

The day decisions were due out, I refreshed my email every few minutes while already daydreaming about how I would announce my new opportunity on social media. I was just so sure I was going to be accepted. 

And then, around two o’clock, while I was sitting in on a new client strategy meeting at work, the email came. 

A polite “thank you for your application, but spots were limited and we’re unable to offer you one. Please apply again next year…” 

Disappointment seeped in. I pushed it down, told myself it was fine, that I was passed over because it wasn’t the right opportunity for me and God has something better coming down the pipe. I reminded myself of all the times that’s been true. The boy I thought I was going to marry dumped me without explanation, but if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have left my small town in Virginia for the University of Tennessee, a move that changed my life. If I’d gotten that job at the record label I was one of two remaining candidates for, I would have been jobless just three months later when they restructured the company. If my barre studio construction fiasco had turned out differently, I would have had to figure out how to keep a business afloat during a pandemic. 

So many examples of rejection turning out to be a blessing.  

But then I couldn’t ignore the sting of it anymore. 

Standing over my sink as I rinsed dishes and transferred them to the dishwasher about an hour later, I started to cry. The pain of rejection demanded to be acknowledged.

Thanks to a lot of therapy and self-reflection, I knew it likely wasn’t not getting into this particular program that had me down and out. There was more to it. So I put a ‘brb’ bubble next to my name on Slack, took a quick walk around the block to clear my head, and then sat down for a little prayer and meditation time.

Confession: I’ve been feeling rejected a lot lately.

I had to get that rejection email and sit with my tears for it to become clear, but feelings of rejection had been simmering just below the surface for a while, waiting for me to acknowledge them. 

I know it doesn’t look like rejection has been a theme in my life lately from the outside looking in. It never does, does it? You find me on Instagram and you see an aspiring writer living in Los Angeles with two cute dogs and a light-filled apartment. I’m teaching Pure Barre, a ten minute drive from the beach, drinking a lot of coffee and the occasional glass of wine… 

What you don’t see is the behind the scenes rollercoaster I’ve been on. 

Dating has been – not great. I don’t share much about my dating life on social media. I keep it close to the vest with the hope that someday, I’ll be in a relationship I’m comfortable sharing with my family, friends, and later, followers. 

Having said all of that, dating sucks. 

I’ve gone on several dates in L.A. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve swiped left and right. I’ve had first, second dates that went really well, third dates that didn’t. I’ve gone on first dates that were so cringeworthy it was all I could do not to say I was going to the restroom only to slip out the back door. I was asked to convert religions halfway through the salad course on a first date by a guy who said he was 5’8” online but showed up eye-level with my 5’2,” and the number of times I’ve been ghosted on dating apps is yet another number I’ve stopped tracking. 

So of course, in the midst of dating being not great, something in me has shifted that has gone from being career-focused to wanting to settle down, own a home, get married, have a family… All desires I’ve always had, but that in recent months have become the greater pull on my heart. It’s been tough, dating and searching and hoping, only to feel heartbreak – rejection – once more when a date doesn’t work out or a guy stops replying to my texts. 

Finding my community in L.A. has been hard too. I have friends. I have people. But I haven’t found community and it’s been another desire that has become more important to me recently. Making friends as an adult may well be just as difficult as dating. I’ve done the coffee dates, gone to events, even tried sliding into DMs of women I think I’d be friends with, but nothing seems to “click.” So I reach for my friends back on the east coast, Tennessee, and Texas, and sometimes the distance feels even further than the couple thousand miles it is, especially when I’m down and out that I didn’t get invited to that beach outing or the cool chick I had coffee with never got around to confirming the follow up plan to grab drinks “soon.”

Rejection. Sucks. 

And since it seems I’m being blatantly honest here, I’m also having a moment of not rejection, per say, but of reckoning with where I want my career to go. Film school is teaching me a lot about what I don’t want to do right no and writing is most certainly a career choice that comes with rejection letters more often than acceptance ones. 

Suffice to say, it’s been a lot and that one email tipped me over the rejection edge. 

The thing is, I still believe rejection is redirection. I still believe that by not getting something we want, there is something better for us on the horizon. I still believe that God is working out my love story, that He is leading me to community, to home, to purpose. 

But rejection still burns. It hurts, down deep, like a bruise that won’t quite heal. One rejection email can surface a whole ocean of stormy rejected feelings. 

I let myself have a good cry. You need to do that sometimes, don’t you. I moved my body – it tends to shake up the bad energy – and spent time in prayer and reminded myself of God’s promises.

Rejection is a part of life. We’re all going to experience it. We’re all going to go through seasons where it feels like rejection is the only thing in our inbox.

But one of these days, we’ll see why we got that rejection.

And we’ll be grateful for it. 

I truly believe that. 

I hope you do too. 

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