Rejection is a roadblock, not a destination

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

The feeling is unfortunately common — we find a position we are ecstatic to run for or a group we can’t wait to be a part of, but just as soon as we begin to prepare for the new opportunity, we discover that the spot went to someone else instead.

The beginning of a new semester allows for a variety of new opportunities. With different classes and often activities to become involved in, a new semester often leads to a variety of ways to get involved in campus and work life.

However, with new opportunities come even greater chances of rejection. Deciding to be bold and take a chance on new leadership positions or ways of involvement can lead to success, but just as often lead to disappointment.

Feelings of rejection can occur more often than not when a new semester first begins — clubs offer leadership positions, companies offer internships, sororities and other organizations welcome new members. What starts out as an exciting prospect of getting involved can quickly become a disappointing outcome when we aren’t offered the opportunities or positions we hoped for or the positions.

Despite how difficult these types of situations may be, it’s important that we don’t let them define how we view ourselves or the rest of our semester. When we envision our lives and how they will progress over the course of a few months, maintaining a focus on the type of person we want to be and the values we want to grow from is a preferable way to look toward the future. When we place a greater emphasis on our personal outcome, we begin to better ourselves from within instead of relying on a new opportunity to do the work for us. When we assume an activity or position is our only path to growth, we’re holding ourselves back and limiting our potential.

That being said, growth can absolutely come from involvement and leadership, but it is not the only way. Sometimes, simply making the decision to go for a job or position out of our comfort zone is already a great kickstart to further opportunities. Not being the person who earns a new position or title doesn’t mean that one won’t learn just as much as the person who did.

As much as disappointment from any circumstance is a hurdle, it’s also just a part of life and isn’t indicative of character or even skill level at times. Instead of using a rejection to prove how an organization is in the wrong or to justify its faults, we can use it as a time of reflection or even empowerment. Often times, the most successful people in this leadership positions used rejection as motivation for even greater wins down the line — even J.K. Rowling was turned down by 12 publishers before Harry Potter got picked up.

Most of all, we can look for other people who are in a similar boat. Turning to others for advice and counsel can be one of the best ways to get through difficult times, especially at the beginning after an initial shock. While using others to constantly vent or complain to doesn’t solve any problems, finding others who can understand the confusion and disappointment we are going through can make the world of a difference.

Disappointment is an unfortunately common part of life, and can often occur toward the beginning of a semester along with opportunities. At the end of the day, we are the ones who make the choice to define our situation for ourselves or to let our circumstances define us. Search for the lessons to be learned, be on the look out for even greater opportunities and let a time of difficulty push us forward instead of hold us back.