At the beginning of last spring semester, my roommate and I sat on our beds drinking water and sharing our goals — goals far outside our comfort zones. We threw them back and forth, weaving a tapestry for an optimistic future. We discussed our fears, and then we would clink our glasses to the possibility of failure, speaking in unison.
“Cheers to rejection.”
We threw that statement back and forth until we put it into action; until the word became a welcomed opponent; until we sent the texts; until we made the metaphorical leaps. I asked my crush out. I joined the university paper. I attended events and activities I wouldn’t have before. I overcame my inhibitions and played piano in my religion class.
And rejection came. I was sent a 90-word break-up text. I didn’t always get the interviews I wanted. I hit the wrong notes for all to hear.
The rejection came, but I was braced for it. If you toast to the worst-case scenario, you’re a lot more likely to take risks you wouldn’t otherwise take. We knew full well things might not work and still ran headlong to embrace them.
The attitude of “cheering to rejection” shifted my college experience. I became fearless in a way I hadn’t been before. Since that motto entered my life, I got a job at Scroll, I went on more dates and I worried less about negative outcomes. Now, before I do anything scary, I talk to my roommate and we toast to the possibility of failure. I get motivated by acknowledging that I’m still doing something no matter how frightening it feels.
Now, this whole mindset is meant to soften the blow of being rejected. But let’s face it, rejection can feel brutal at times. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a social situation of unreciprocated feelings or someone else getting the promotion at work, it hurts.
In fact, there is a reason that rejection seems to take a physical toll on your well being. Through tests involving MRI scans, researchers at the University of Michigan found that the same area of the brain activated during physical pain is activated while remembering past rejections. Proving we’re not wimps when we find ourselves afraid of rejection.
When rejection does come, we just need to take a moment to wallow, eat some ice cream and then remember that rejection is not the end-all-be-all. The pain will pass, and you’ll be more experienced from it.
Remember, there will be times when you DTR and finish the conversation with a significant other. You’ll work hard for a promotion and get it. You’ll apply for your dream internship and be accepted.
But in order for those precious moments to come, you need to push through the fear of rejection and try, despite it.
We need to greet the possibility of rejection with a grin. Stare into its looming figure and refuse to blink. Take out our sparkling cider and diet sodas and cheers to it. Because there will be a time when you “cheers to rejection” but drink to success.