Everybody experiences rejection. As a small child you learn almost automatically that you don't always get what you want and sometimes life isn't fair. Even with this awareness, rejection still sucks. I remember crying violently for several hours after I found out that I wasn't elected to be the mayor of my third grade class. Though comical now, it was crushing at the time.
Eventually I learned to deal with larger failures. In high school I didn't make the varsity lacrosse team and I got denied from several retail jobs. Neither bothered me much, and I was able to brush them off and continue my life. However, my relaxed and accepting attitude changed around the time of college decisions. In October of my senior year I was accepted to my in-state safety school. But after that initial success, I was pegged with no, after no, after no. All in all I was rejected by half of the schools I applied to, several of which I considered to be safe.
My dream school offered me spring admission, which felt like another another palpable failure. At the same time the summer camp that I had grown up at and which I had worked for the summer prior, failed to hire me back. That initiated another long streak of "no's" from potential employers.
That month of rejection ruined me. I thought that I would have a wonderful job in the summer and head right off to begin university in the fall. Yet, neither of those seemed plausible due to my circumstances. I lost all confidence. Every time I opened a letter that began with "We're sorry, you have not been admitted" I would feel it as a personal attack, and I would hear little voices telling me that I wasn't good enough. All of those rejections made me feel worthless and like I shouldn't even try for anything else in my life.
But I did. I accepted spring admission to my dream school, and I found a job at a fun burger joint. Right now, a year later, I am doing great. My situation wasn't ideal but I'm glad it happened. Getting through it allowed me to mature and realize what I'm capable of. Here is my advice on how to handle heartbreaking rejections.
1. Don't get your heart set on one particular thing, whether it is a school, an internship, etc. Have several other options. Sometimes the options that weren't on the top of your list turn out to be the best experiences. My restaurant job was one of my favorites.
2. Don't take rejections personally. A rejection often isn't a reflection of your personal achievement. There are so many variables that go into decision. Perhaps a college didn't let you in because they already had too many students from New Jersey or because the reader was sick and in a bad mood. College decisions are really quite trivial.
3. Trust in the future. Everything has a way of working its self out, even if it doesn't seem like it. I moved to LA the fall of my freshman year and took community college classes. I was often frustrated and upset to be missing the "typical freshman experience." But I am now at university and happy as can be. In addition, the camp I was rejected from reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come back. If you are patient, work hard, and keep trying. Things will get better.
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