Opinion: Rejection and moving on

Just like rejection shows up in various ways, there are a lot of feelings that can come along when facing rejection: embarrassment, confusion, bitterness, a decrease in confidence and self-esteem and a fear of ever putting yourself out there again. (Andrea Zapata)

“The School of Communications would like to thank you for your interest in the communications major. However, we regret to inform you that you were not admitted to the Advertising sequence in this round of applications.”

Re-reading my advertising program rejection email can still make me feel the confusion, embarrassment and lack of confidence I felt the day admission decisions came out.

“The process is difficult for faculty because they know the importance of this decision for all students involved.”

I remember laughing at that sentence, because as much as I believed those words were coming from a good place, I didn’t really care about the difficult choices faculty had to make when choosing applicants. All I could think of was how almost a year of work and dedication that I had put on my application had been reduced to a sad email that made me feel sorry for myself.

“Although the advertising faculty is confident they have identified the top students for the program, they also recognize that those not admitted have many positive qualities.”

Yet, in that moment, my brain could not really come up with any of my “many positive qualities” and automatically started listing a bunch of reasons why my application had not been good enough for the program or even worse: why I was not good enough.

Rejection does not always come in the shape of an email or a letter. In fact, I believe we face rejection more often than we notice. Feelings of inadequacy and failure may show up in daily situations such as not being invited to a party or not hearing back from someone with whom we have gone on a couple of dates.

Just like rejection shows up in various ways, there are a lot of feelings that can come along when facing rejection: embarrassment, confusion, bitterness, a decrease in confidence and self-esteem and a fear of ever putting yourself out there again.

Being rejected is embarrassing. I can easily remember how much I dreaded opening my friends’ messages asking me about the program’s admissions decision (with some of them congratulating me even before hearing the news), or how scared I felt about accidentally running into people I had talked to about it or had helped me with the application process.

Being rejected is upsetting. I remember crying my heart out when my third grade best friend chose someone else over me to do a science project with. Rejection has made me feel resentment directed to myself and to others, making it hard to forgive.

Rejection is confusing. Maybe you had planned an entire future based on a college, a program, a person or a situation that ended up not working out and having to start again or drafting a new game plan that felt overwhelming.

However, rejection doesn’t reflect your worth and doesn’t define who you are.

In my case, being rejected from the advertising program led me to consider different career options and forced me to identify other “positive qualities” I had, outside of those related to the advertising field. Facing what seemed like a big obstacle in my college journey helped me widen my horizons and recognize there was not only one major I had interest in, or only one major I would be a good fit for.

As a BYU student, I have heard multiple times that we as students have perfectionist tendencies and therefore, do not know how to deal with rejection. Yet I believe this narrative is false. Haven’t a majority of BYU students served missions, where rejection is the everyday bread and butter? Don’t a great deal of students choose to do summer sales and keep a smile and a positive attitude even after having walked for hours under the sun and having been yelled at in neighborhoods?

This past winter, I decided to give it a go and apply to be a staff member at The Daily Universe. Not to be too much of a fangirl, but ever since I rerouted my career choice and fell in love with writing and journalism, I fantasized with the idea of one day writing for the school’s newspaper.

Almost a year had gone by since my rejection to the advertising program, and even though I still felt a mix of bitterness and admiration for those in the program, I didn’t roam around the Adlab and wallow in pity over what I wasn’t able to be a part of anymore. Instead, I casually walked past the newsroom whenever I had a chance, I checked the Universe website every morning hungry for news, and even (somewhat embarrassing to admit now that a few of them are my coworkers) followed members of the student staff on social media, making them my journalism influencers and role models.

I knew I really didn’t have the experience I considered necessary to become part of the newsroom. However, I didn’t let my fear of being rejected keep me away from the prospect and opportunity of doing what I love most.

Only a few days after having interviewed, I wasn’t surprised to learn that I had not been chosen to fill the position. My friend texted me a fragment of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem which goes: “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

This fragment has ended up becoming scripture to me and I cannot be prouder and happier about the decision I made to apply. A week into the semester, I received a call from one of the newsroom managers saying circumstances had changed and they wanted me to be part of the Universe team. It was true indeed: “It is better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at all.”

I have learned that forgiving oneself and forgiving others is a great and healing way of dealing, moving on and growing after rejection. Realizing that we aren’t perfect and aren’t supposed to be can be hard to digest for some, but I have found that allowing myself to try and fail is very liberating.

When it comes to dealing with rejection and reassuring my worthiness, I cannot think of a better role model than Jesus. He was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Mosiah 14:3). I know He has experienced our illnesses, our pain, loneliness, confusion, sadness and feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

Jesus knows what you’re going through when you face rejection. He sees your eternal and true potential and is cheering for you to see it as well.

— Andrea Zapata

Editor in Chief

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