I’m not the kind of person who necessarily deals well with rejection. After three years of being a lead character in school plays and musicals, for my senior year I was cast as a minor role. In fact, the role was so minor that the director was easily able to change the character’s gender from male to female. My sophomore year of high school, when I tried out for the volleyball team, I was one of only two girls who ultimately didn’t make the team. I’ve kept that rejection letter in my box of school things, because some day, when my kids face rejection, I want them to see that I’ve been rejected too. Recently, I reblogged a post that talked about why a parent wanted his or her child to fail, and I can easily understand that mentality. After all, these failures have taught me to get up after rejection and to work harder and smarter towards achieving the things I want.
While you don’t want to coddle kids into thinking they are perfect and infallible, emphasizing the fact that failure is situational doesn’t hurt. After all, during my graduate school application process I applied to two comparable schools. My first-choice accepted me, but my second-choice wait listed me and eventually wrote to tell me that the program was full. Rejection isn’t a reflection on your value as a human being, but more a reflection on what a certain situation requires. If a company is looking for someone with customer service experience and you have none, you probably won’t be hired. Failure can be a way to address your shortcomings, as long as you can handle it with grace and later reflect on the experience.
After all, if you want to join the Peace Corps more than anything else, you can beef up your resume and experiences in order to make yourself a more attractive process. If you want to make the track team, you can start training harder and longer. Of course, you have to know your limitations, but limitations are often more flexible than you initially think, and that is what a rejection can teach you.