5 Steps to Bounce Back From Rejection

Aspire to Her

By: Heream Yang // Feb 4, 2019


If there’s anyone who understands rejection, it’s me. I was denied admission from all but one of the top 20 universities I applied to, despite being a National Merit Scholar with near-perfect SAT scores. During my freshman year of college, I eagerly registered for sorority recruitment, only to be dropped by seven out of ten houses after the first round. The number of “sorry to inform you” emails in my inbox would astound even the most apathetic observer. I am a reject, and have been countless times.

To put it bluntly, rejection hurts. You begin to wonder what is wrong with you- Will you ever be good enough? It’s easy to sink into a slimy pit of sorrow after a few hard knocks to your hopes and dreams, but, before you give up completely, take a few tips from a fellow reject below:

1. Wallow

Yes, you can feel bad for yourself. Cry, punch your pillow, and spend the night watching Gilmore Girl reruns while gobbling down a quart of chocolate ice cream. You just gave your all to something, and it’s going to sting when that ivory tower of hard work and optimism comes crashing down on you. You are a human being with valid emotions, so take some time to process your feelings. It’s healthy. Also, don’t wallow alone. It takes two to wallow- whether it’s your mom, significant other, sister, best friend, or cat, let someone who loves you and wants to support you be your rock during your dark hour of despair.

2. Know that it’s not you, it’s them

Ugh. Whether you’ve said it, or have had someone say it to you, the words, “It’s not you, it’s me” always sound a bit lame in the heat of the moment. However, in terms of rejection, when you have truly given your all, it really isn’t because something is inherently wrong with you. Instead of attributing failure to who you are as a person, examine the circumstances to see what went wrong. For example, you may have been the most qualified person for your dream position, but perhaps your resume didn’t effectively convey these qualifications. This doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified or that you will never be able to write an effective resume- it just means that, in this situation, the strategies you employed did not match with the criteria the company was looking for. That’s actually really good news, because you can learn from your mistakes and modify your tactics for next time because, despite what you may think now, there will be a next time.

3. Reflect

Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Take it from the man who went on to invent the lightbulb and look at your failure as an experiment. Examine the data, and reflect on what worked and what didn’t work. Strengthen your successes and continue to tweak and refine your failures. Failure is valuable feedback that will only set you up for future success.

4. Move on

Our girl Ari said it right. “Thank U, Next” to rejection. You really won’t get anywhere when your head’s stuck in the past, and, let’s face it, we’re ambitious young women with goals to accomplish. Got denied from your top choice business school? Good news- there are plenty of other extremely prestigious business schools out there. Let rejection reshape your life path. Getting rejected from one business school means that you have the closure and feedback necessary to start building stellar applications to other ones. Move forward, move on, and build a plan. Don’t let negative feelings get in the way of future success. You got this!  

5. Be proud

You may feel like you just joined the world’s biggest failures club, but, in reality, you have joined an elite league of the world’s most successful people. For example, did you know that Hollywood hunk Chris Pratt was homeless in Hawaii before becoming, well, Chris Pratt? Or that J.K. Rowling, billionaire author extraordinaire, was rejected by multiple publishers before somebody decided to take a chance on Harry Potter? Sometimes it just takes time and the knowledge that you are never, ever giving up to achieve success. While you are still in that “pre-successful” phase, know that you stand in the ranks of some of the world’s most powerful people.

All this advice really wouldn’t mean anything if I didn’t apply it to my own life. That one top 20 university I got into is now my alma mater, Vanderbilt University. While I ended up dropping out of sorority recruitment my freshman year, I tried again as a sophomore and found a wonderful community of strong women in a house I am now proud to call home. In terms of summer internships, I haven’t been accepted to anything just yet, but that won’t stop me from applying- Just ask, I applied for 17 positions at a certain Fortune 500 company and have not yet been rejected from eight of them. The more rejections, the closer I know I am towards finding success, because it only takes one opportunity to change the course of a career.  


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