Each year, I have one of my students not getting into any colleges.
Because of schools increasing reliance on a more holistic process, students find it more difficult to deem any school a “safety school.”
What do you tell an 18 year old full of promise that what they planned and dreamed for the last 18 years will all have to change?
What do you tell a student when their life plan has changed to something unfathomable for someone so young and full of dreams?
Here is a list of motivators and harsh truths about rejection that have shaped the brightest minds, that I have to pull out more and more this time of year during college acceptance time.
1. Rejection makes us stronger. Whenever I meet someone I am in awe of either in a business or appropriate social situation, I will inevitably ask about their bottom. When did they feel their most acute failure? I have found that the almost certain response is, “Which time?” Strong people are almost always successful, and I have found it’s the old adage of, “It’s not how many times you are knocked down, but how many times you get up,” that creates purpose and strength.
2. There is power in rejection. Learning to overcome adversity is a single determinant in my own personal success and the success of many other entrepreneurs. Many studies have indicated that grit, the ability to be tacky and tough throughout your academic journey—in other words, fearless in the face of rejection—allows more room for achievement in academics.
3. There is creativity in rejection. Thomas Edison has said that, “I did not fail, I just found 10,000 ways that did not work.” Creativity is in the heart of rejection and vice versa. It was through rejection, my own disability and adversity that I decided to create a company that helped students learn to self-advocate in academia. Rejection teaches you how to think powerfully, how to relentlessly and passionately advocate for your own and others interest and become the best version of yourself.
4. Rejection allows us to get in touch with what we really want. Too often in life we are on a predetermined path, rejection is a wake up call. It tells us it’s time to reevaluate and allows space for a long pause and reassessment to ask ourselves what we really want and best to achieve it. Rejection allows the space for taking the road less traveled by, and according to Robert Frost and many entrepreneurs, that has made all the difference.
5. Rejection teaches you about who you are and about how life works, quickly. Nothing teaches you more about life than rejection or adversity. If I were to name a single dominant theme in my life, it is learning to overcome adversity and being stronger, happier and more aligned with my life’s mission because of it. Rejection is life’s greatest teacher, allowing you to grow in the framework of life’s disappointments.
Inevitability the people who don’t get into any schools are the most kind-hearted, graceful and decent students on my client roster, which is why this is often my hardest talk of the year. I like to remind them that despite having a law degree and a master’s degree, I have almost never gotten my first choice in academia, and it has almost always ended up being a blessing that allowed me to be in the right place in the right time.
Being the lovely kind people they are, they gracefully and kindly handle their rejection, and I try to tell them all of the tools that this rejection will create for them. I would be far more devastated if I did not believe that this was preparing them for greatness and this early rejection is a precursor to the great many rejections that lead to a successful and meaningful life.
Author: Katie Schellenberg
Editor: Travis May
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