At the spunky young age of 19, I applied to the Journalism school of my first college. Having previously gotten every job I interviewed for, accepted into every college I applied to, and received a slew of different awards and scholarships, I was in for a rude awakening when it came to rejection.
At the time, I was writing remotely for an online company based out of New York City. I had some pretty good contacts that were ready to write a letter of recommendation. There was published content that was doing well across all of social media. The cherry on top of the cake was that two of my best friends were already in the J-School, and they had both put their seal of approval on my application.
I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Being one of the twenty percent of admitted students wasn’t something I really worried about or lost sleep over because, in my mind, it was already a done deal. Well, I didn’t get in. I got a big fat rejection email.
Sure, it gave me encouragement to apply next semester, but it felt like a hard slap in the face. Rejection feels like that, ya know? It feels like the reality that you’ve bought into about yourself or your life is just crumbling around you. At the time, there was no brightside. While other friends got to pursue classes within the school and take steps forward, I felt like I was stuck in quicksand.
I’ve come to accept that everything in my life has happened for a reason. You can read a little more about this in my blog “Purpose From Pain.” Part of that is understanding that rejection also has its place among my life lessons. Getting a big, fat rejection from the school that I thought was my dream was a lesson I needed.
First, it forced me to give a shit about my writing. If you read a couple of my blogs, you’ll find that they’re very much written in a conversational tone. Most of the time, I’m speaking out loud when I’m writing. It’s always just made me connect to what I was saying more. That might have been what the media company in New York was looking for and what the audience of my first BlogSpot blog was looking for, but it wasn’t for everything.
Having a highly regarded school tell me that I needed some time to keep working made me realize that I didn’t know everything. I wasn’t the perfect writer that I had originally thought and just because my mom was sharing all my stuff on Facebook does NOT mean I’m ready to write a novel.
Second, being rejected made me start to rethink my plans. Whether or not it was supposed to, the rejection definitely made me question whether or not I was destined to be a writer. I walked into my first college class thinking that I wanted to write for The New York Times. This rejection is what made me start to consider communication. It made me start to realize that people could make money doing the thing that I was skipping class for; social media.
I had always wanted to minor in Political Science, but being rejected from the Journalism school made me want to pursue that even more. I declared dual-degree student the semester after with majors in Political Science and Communications. A transfer of schools would just turn into two Bachelor of Arts in those fields. I got more education than I ever thought I would because of that initial rejection.
Lastly, rejection eventually made me find the beauty in the imperfections of my work. Like I said before, the lack of admittance might have made me realize that I was not the all-knowing writing prophecy. It also made me take my writing for face value. There are things that I am ridiculously good at when I write – connecting to people, telling a story, and painting a picture for my audience. It made me realize that I was writing to speak, which is definitely something I want my future career to involve. It made me realize that even though I can write 5-paragraph essays and research papers, I don’t think I want to do that for a living.
The best friends that I talked about earlier are writing in the perfect way for them. My beautiful editor, Vanessa, writes so eloquently and I won’t be surprised in the least when her first book hits the shelves. She saves all of my blogs from having mistakes up the wazoo and offers so many amazing ideas. We’re two VERY different writers, but that rejection made me see the beauty of the craft again. It made me recognize that we’re artists painting what we find beautiful.
So, maybe you’re going through a terrible break up, you’ve lost your only source of income, or you’ve just got the rejection email from your dream school, and you’re questioning everything about you. Rejection hurts. Sometimes, it’s life’s way of putting a yield sign right in front of you so you learn to enjoy the drive. Other times, it’s a stop sign that you desperately needed to realize that your navigation was WAY off.
Being rejected from my dream school was my saving grace in finding my path and my true self. Maybe, just maybe, the pain you’re going through has a purpose too?
Has anything happened in your life that hurt but you’re thankful for now? Tell me your story by getting into the DMs on any of my socials below! I want to hear from you!
Edited by Vanessa Reza. Contact info can be found on the ‘Contact Me’ page.