Sometimes, the universe moves us, but not to what we seek or have asked for. Perhaps, it moves us away or even says no.
The spiritual gurus talk about what rejections mean: a redirection, a push toward what’s really meant for us, a “not now,” or “not this.” But this isn’t really a rejection.
Whether or not this is true, we won’t know until further ahead in the future. The words about rejection are a redirection themselves—a reminder to not lose hope or faith in a better tomorrow. It is a good mentality to carry.
But rejection is still a loss, and to simply push forward ignores the need for mourning. It ignores the need to address your feelings of loss and grief. It ignores the opportunity for you to dig into those insecurities and arise stronger, no matter what that rejection is.
I was recently slapped hard with rejection for a PhD studentship and was at a loss mentally and emotionally, which, of course, impacted me physically. And while there were consolations offered and reassurances considered, there was the unmistakable reminder of “something better will come.”
In the time I’ve taken to consider this loss, I’ve come to acknowledge the need for three great things:
1. Always give yourself the space to feel
We’re all so caught up in trying to avoid the negative emotions that we end up letting them control us. Feel your hurt and sadness; feel your anger, deal with them, and work through them. It is the way to overcome them and to come out the other end healthier and happier. It is the way to stand back up again and say, “Screw you, I’m still moving forward.”
I cried. I journaled. I found solace in food. I had a proper mourning—something that not everyone allows themselves when facing rejection.
It all needs to be felt, no matter the extent of the loss. A university rejection, a date decline, or a job dismissal. Give yourself time. Sometimes, it may be long; sometimes, it may be a minute. But never let your feelings become unimportant. They are how we experience life—the good and the bad. Let them be felt and move with them so you can move through them.
2. Find something that reminds you that this is not forever
Subconsciously, we all know this, but in those feeling moments, it can be easy to believe that this situation is forever. So, in your mourning, find something to remind yourself that what you are feeling and the circumstances you’re in are not permanent.
Like the wheel in the tarot, what goes up must come down. And when you’re down, remember that the wheel could spin in the opposite direction at any time. Don’t lose that hope and find something to remind yourself of that.
I found songs that helped to reignite myself. From musicals to rock to pop to country to alternative, each song had something to tell me about myself and what I was overcoming. While the universe gave me the space to mourn my hard work and effort, it still managed to send me shuffled songs to assure me that things will be alright—that I was alright.
Take a moment in your mourning to find comfort in what may lead to those leaked messages. Perhaps, in music, or books, or even online articles, and hold on to what they say. Maybe then, they will allow room for an outcome.
3. Come back to yourself
Remind yourself of who you are, especially after disappointments. You’re still there. Even if you are a million people and a million pieces—you’re still there.
But let’s just say that a week ago, after receiving yet another rejection for work—not just any work, but a PhD that was so in line with who I am and who I am trying to be, I just didn’t think I’d be here mentally. I didn’t think I’d be singing along to music, dancing with it, being close to tears at the reminder of how beautiful this damn planet is and how much I adore this country I live in, or smiling at strangers.
This is the beauty that comes from allowing ourselves to mourn. It is an honoring of ourselves—a recognition that life is great and wonderful. But if we want those moments to cherish, we have to accept that they come with hurt and heartbreak, too. And this is fine and beautiful, for it gives us the space to grow, even in the darkness.
So, yes to moving on, to figuring out a new approach, and to continuing on your journey with your head held up high.
But equally yes to the tears and pain, to the insecurities of not feeling good enough, to the fears of uncertainty, to the comfort foods of loss and grief, and their emotional turmoil, and to the crying and headaches of both.
When we don’t make room for the emotions that come with life, they consume us even more. Acknowledge them, feel them, sit with them, and give them the same space you’d give to a beloved friend.
If you allow them, they’ll remind you of what you hold most dear. They’ll remind you of who you are.
And then, you may arise again—a phoenix born anew, ready to blaze to a new path.