Being Thankful for All the No’s

Rejection, a term that most, if not all people dread to hear and feel. According to the English dictionary the term “rejection” means “the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc, and the spurning of a person’s affections.” Personally, I have felt “rejection” can mean dismissing an entire person, not just the ideas or actions associated with someone. Let’s face it, the act of rejection hurts, it sucks to have happen to you, and no one wants to be rejected – I have never met anyone who wishes they were rejected from a person they loved, or a job they want, or a dream they wish to fulfill. But rejection is part of life, the question is how will we use rejection to better ourselves?

The other day I was having a conversation with one of my students. We talked about rejection. During our conversation I told the student that everyone goes through rejection, this year alone I have been rejected by another PhD program, a person I was in a long-term relationship with, and to top it many job rejections (competing for a job in a pandemic is tough I might add). These rejections are only from this year and do not account for years past, along with all the little rejections I experience on a daily basis. But hey, what does not kill you only makes you stronger, right?  And if that is true, right now I feel like I am Wonder Woman with how strong I have gotten over this year! See me fly y’all!

The conversation I had took place the day before the American holiday “Thanksgiving.” During Thanksgiving typically people talk about all the things they are thankful for, which most of the time focuses on what they have. This year, I did things differently. I began to think about how thankful I am for all the things I do not have – yes, you heard me right.

Hang on, before you give me that confused look and say how privilege I am to think of the things I don’t have, when many people out there have very little. Let me explain what I mean by this. This year for Thanksgiving I spent it alone. Ensuring that I don’t become a super-spreader of Covid-19, I chose to stay home to be part of the solution not the problem. During the day I began to think about what I was thankful for, having a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, and that I am alive and well with family who is alive and well, among other things. But I also began to think about all the things I did not get this year, or shall I say that daunting word “rejected” from. For example, I was rejected from a PhD program I thought I wanted to attend, but after much thinking I realized I would not have fit well into that program, and not to mentioned I would have had to force myself to finish my Master’s degree in Spring term during a time that was full of hardship. Because I did not get into the program, I was able to take my time, and defend a strong, well-written thesis of 153 pages on Friday the 13th this November and successfully passed! At the time of rejection I felt my world had ended, but it was the best thing that happened to me because I was able to focus on something more important, my Master’s degree.

Now let’s talk about another rejection – my past relationship. I ended the relationship in mid-June, this year. Was it heart-breaking? ABSOLUTELY!! For months I grieved and even question if I made the right choice, but guess what 6 month later I am so happy I made that choice! Being rejected by someone I loved hurt, but the door closing on that relationship was the best thing that ever happened to me. Instead of being in a toxic relationship during a pandemic while we are asked to stay inside, I am able to wake up each morning in peace. Not scared I will “disappoint” or do something wrong again, no longer am I in tears. I am free to be me, and I can now meet a good man who respects, accepts, and honors me in a loving partnership, not a dictatorship.

Do you see a pattern here? I am thankful for all the no’s, closed doors, rejections because although it hurt at that moment, I was able to look back and see how much I have grown, healed, and loved myself. Also, better myself. When I got rejected from one job, I worked harder to prefect my cover letter for another, finally resulting in an interview! Being rejected is not about your worth or value, but it just means that that job, program, person, whatever was not right for you. As they say when one door closes another opens, right? It is those closed doors and rejections that help make us who we are. Forcing us down another path, making us grow and become better – even if it is uncomfortable at first. Dealing with rejection is an ubiquitous experience – meaning universally humans everywhere experience it, it is how we react to it that makes it different.

Do you know Lucille Ball, the amazing, talented comic actress was rejected numerous times during her career? Most remember Lucille Ball in her famous TV show, I Love Lucy which aired from 1951 to 1957 and still can be seen on TV with its re-runs. But before her success, Lucille Ball was rejected several times from Broadway and while trying to make it big, she worked as a waitress and a hat model. If Lucille Ball quit after each of her rejections, we would have not had the iconic show I Love Lucy. I bet those rejections hurt for her, but it seems to me Lucille took those rejections and used them as motivation to keep persisting.

Image from National Women’s Hall of Fame, 2020

So, at the end of the day, instead of being thankful for what we have, we should also be thankful for what we don’t have. A song that has been at the top of my playlist is by Tasha Layton, called “Thank You for the No.” It has been my anthem while I keep persisting through these rejections. I know these rejections do not determine my worth and value as a person, but instead of letting them beat me down, I will use them as motivation to keep persisting forward just like Lucille Ball did. Rejection might hurt in that movement and even after time has passed, but in the end when you look back 6 months, a year, or even more from that day you got rejected, I hope you see how far you have come and how that rejection could have been the best thing for you.

For now, my warriors – be loved, be kind, and know you are loved!

Until next time…

-Alyssa, the salt woman  

Published by Alyssa - the salt woman

Alyssa Sperry is a classically trained Pastry Chef, certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Community Herbalist. After receiving her B.A. from Washington State University, where she studied anthropology and history, she began her graduate career in 2018 at the University of Oregon. She continues to pursue commodity research, focusing on food and foodways. Current research involves the history of salt production on the island of Jamaica.

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