When I graduated university I started an internship straight away. Moved cities. Stayed with my grandmother. Worked for three months full time, for free.
I didn’t get a job from this internship. As any millennial will tell you, that’s pretty normal. I wasn’t expecting one.
I moved back home and resumed my job hunt. I graduated with good grades, I had a tonne of work experience behind me. I’d done everything I could to enhance my employability. My story is standard for my generation.
I spent months after heartbreaking months applying for jobs. Applying again. Trying. Trying again. And not getting anywhere.
‘No’ is the only word I heard. Coming from every direction. Sometimes ‘no’ was even a step up.
I became so accustomed to not receiving any response to job applications, no replies following freelance submissions, only the automated email after competition entries.
I became so used to receiving no response at all, that hearing anything felt good. Even if that ‘anything’ was a ‘no’.
Some days are worse than others in this situation. It can make you question your worth and your value as a professional. As a person. You start to doubt yourself. It’s tough and ugly and can be a vicious circle of negative self-talk. Nothing feels good. It’s a dark time where you find it almost impossible to live “in the moment” because you’re always looking to the future. No idea of what it might hold.
It’s important to hear from others who have been there. Experienced the same rejection. The same feeling of helplessness. Until they were given one chance.
One chance is the only thing it takes. One chance is enough to break the cycle of ‘nos’ and start moving forward.
Inspired by The Cut and their list of the most powerful responses to rejection from some of the world’s most successful women, we’ve gathered some of the best, and added some of our own.
Just to remind you that one day, you will be told ‘yes’. Don’t give up.
Rejection’s a huge thing you have to get over in acting. That was actually the worst for me because I started auditioning for movies before I started modelling and I could not deal with the rejection. When I got turned down for something I loved, it took me weeks to get over it. — Marie Claire, May 2014
“I want to say also it feels good to be chosen but there was a time in my life that I was not chosen. I was the opposite of chosen because I was different, and I think I wanna make sure that everyone knows that what makes you different right now, makes you stand out later in life. So you should be proud of being different, proud of who you are.” – Teen Choice Awards, 2015
Failure is a part of that whole process. You just learn to pick yourself up. And the quicker and more resilient you become, the better you are. – A welcome address to local students at The White House.
I was rejected in school because I didn’t look like the big-breasted, beautiful girls. I was awkward and sad. My mother always said, ‘Be original!’ but I didn’t understand until I changed to be like everyone else. Once I fit in, I was like, ‘What have I done?’ I realised that my friends before were much cooler, with a great sense of humor and a way of looking at the world that was more fun. But if I hadn’t gone through that, I wouldn’t have been driven to make my oddities cool. InStyle Magazine
[I didn’t get work for two years before Homeland]. It was confusing. I got a lot of plaudits, and it didn’t translate into more work. I was really, really struggling during that time. It was grim. I was very hurt. Two years of not working was brutal. And a point came where I thought, I really like interior design. Someone suggested, ‘Maybe your real success is in your personal life’. – Vogue
Mary H.K. Choi
People who say nothing inspires them more than ‘no’ and how rejection fuels them WHAT IS THAT LIKE? Also are you lying? — her Twitter, April 2016
It doesn’t matter how many times you get rejected. All that needs to happen is for one person to tell you “Yes,” and then everybody can go f*** themselves.
The strangest thing to come out of Wild’s success is how often people make incorrect assumptions about me. They assume writing is easy for me and I’ll never face rejection again. But of course I will and I do. The thing I’ve learned over and over again is never, ever assume that you’re going to get something — publication, award nominations, a prize, a residency, or fellowship. And never assume you aren’t going to get it either. The writing life doesn’t move in a straight line. I’ve had successes and rejections all along the way, at every stage of my career, and I will continue to do so. Acceptances and rejections don’t define me. They’re both part of what it means to be a writer. My job is to simply keep doing the work. Like — well, you know — a motherfucker. — Guernica Mag, June 2013
Dita Von Teese
You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there’s always going to be somebody who hates peaches.
What if our work isn’t good enough? We get rejections. Isn’t this the world telling us we shouldn’t bother to be writers? How can we know if we work hard now and develop ourselves we will be more than mediocre? Isn’t this the world’s revenge on us for sticking our neck out? We can never know until we’ve worked, written. We have no guarantee we’ll get a Writer’s Degree. Weren’t the mothers and businessmen right after all? Shouldn’t we have avoided these disquieting questions and taken steady jobs and secured a good future for the kiddies? — The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
I don’t want anyone who doesn’t want me.
My dream was to be an astronaut when I was about 13 or 14 years old and the United States was starting its space program. So I wrote a letter to the NASA space agency and asked how I could become an astronaut. And I got a letter back saying that they weren’t accepting women. Now, I have to be very honest with you. I could never have qualified. But it was a dream, and I have been thrilled to see young women follow that dream and do so with such skill. – town hall event at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
I was able to go on and on and on doing what I was doing because what I was doing was rejected. So it’s a blessing, in a way — a very strange blessing. Because if what I was doing back then would have been totally accepted — you know, ‘Now, Yoko, do that one again! We love it!’ — then I would have been dead as an artist, stuck in one place. But I couldn’t get stuck in one place because people kept whipping me, so I always thought, ‘Go on, do another thing. — Interview