16 Totally Empowering Steps to Getting Over Rejection

Whether it’s a professional snub or personal slap in the face, every single one of us has been rejected at one point (except—maybe—Beyoncé). Perhaps the perfect job opportunity fell through. Or that person who definitely/totally/obviously had a crush on you has evaded your past three text messages. Maybe your mom won’t return your phone calls. And all these minor indignities, they add up.

But fear not, you warrior people of the 21st century! Even though the job market is perpetually fraught, and all of the people on all of the Internet dating sites seem unable to respond to a simple, ‘hello!’—we will not go quietly into that good night. If you’ve been rejected recently and feel like everything in the world is crumbling around you, consider perspective. Don’t take a write-off to heart. Instead, feel free to do any of the following self-esteem-boosting (and totally sane!) things.

1. Write out a furious response letter to the person/institution who rejected you

Make this as colorful as you like. Then, very carefully, set this letter on fire.

2. For perspective, read one of these ruthless rejection letters sent to people who are now incredibly famous. 

3. For perspective, watch a movie about a very winsome, exciting person being rejected

Like Joe Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer, or Colin Firth in the first two-thirds of the BBC Pride and Prejudice.

4. Still mad? Call your best friend

But you knew this. So-and-so always makes you feel better; that’s why they’re your best friend. Recall that you picked one another from a constellation of many would-be options. This is a person who will never reject you. Make plans to eat a pizza soon.

5. Still mad? Find a way to laugh about it

Good comedians are the all-star alchemists for turning pain into joy. The world is loaded with free comedy shows, and Netflix is exploding with stand-up specials. For your recently rejected purposes, try spending streaming laptop time with a comic who specializes in gallows humor, like Louis C.K.

6. Feeling a little better? OK, throw a dance party

Make a playlist. Put on the disco ball. Invite NO ONE BUT YOU.

7. Take yourself out to a fancy lunch

Get dolled up. Put lunch on the credit card. Think about the damage tomorrow, not today. If you are too practical to do this/prefer to cook, make yourself something fancy, or gooey, or great. Something only you like. Something you’ll eat all of in one spectacular setting. When you are finished with this spectacular, spectacular lunch, feel free to shout “NAILED IT!” aloud in your empty room.

8. Go virtual shopping

Meaning: pull a Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but without the commitment. Go to a posh establishment, try on several gowns, and finally, tell the attentive sales-people (very politely!), “I’m sorry, but I think I’ll have to keep looking.”

9. Take you to a movie

You know, that movie no one else wants to see with you. For bonus points, smuggle in that candy that only you like to eat.

10. Feeling great? OK, now perfect your award-winning Oscar/Tony/Pulitzer/Nobel acceptance speech

You know, in the mirror. And work hard on this. You want it to be really good.

11. Feeling epic? OK, now make a list of your long-term goals

That’s everything you hope to accomplish in the visible future. And work hard on this. You want it to be really good.

12. Sketch out some short-term steps

If one of your goals is, ‘publish a novel,’ perhaps a short-term step is, ‘publish a short story.’ If one of your goals is, ‘fall in love,’ maybe a short-term goal is, ‘go out on one date with someone who seems genuinely nice.’

13. Now ask yourself: this person or thing that rejected you earlier—were they really going to help me with these goals? Were they really, one hundred percent crucial to how I want my life to be?

Be honest.

14. Still feeling daunted? Still feeling small? Sing along to a pump-up song, in your car or shower

Suggestions: Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” or Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

. . . because you will, you know.

15 Now recalibrate 

If you’ve been rejected by a publisher, make a list of all the other publishers. If you’ve been rejected by a person, go outside and notice all the other people. Statistically, isn’t something bound to stick? With hard work and a thick skin, aren’t one of these people or places bound to be for you?

16. Tell yourself in a loud, clear, thrilled voice, “HERE WE GO AGAIN!”

Wash, rinse, repeat as necessary.

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