Rejection – The Salt That Gets Rubbed On The Wound

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Expectations, hopes, desires, wants, and even love can lead us down a road of rejections. Where each rejection hurts a little worse then the one before. When we are born in this world, we are not given a pamphlet of instructions that tells us a step-by-step plan of our life. In most cases we have the freedom to choose who we want to love, what career lights our passion, where we want to live, and so forth. Now, I understand that in some cultures, and in some countries, this is not always the case, especially for women. However, even in those circumstances rejection still exist. Rejection follows us wherever we may go. Humans are not immune to it no matter how much they try to prevent it. Rejection happens. So, the question I ask myself is if we know rejection occurs why does it continue to hurt? And is there anything we can do to minimize the pain?

Have you ever sat their crying your eyes out after you have been rejected, repeating the words “why me?”  Well, whether you said yes, or no, I can honestly say I have. As my readers might have notice it has been a hot minute since I wrote a blog post. The last few months I have spent most of my energy trying to keep moving forward from rejections, leaving little energy for writing. Now when I talk about rejection, it does not always refer to love and romance rejection but to all forms of rejection – a job position you desired, a college you dreamed of attending all throughout high school, an audition, a friend, even rejection from your pet – rejection comes in all forms.  

When I started this blog back in the summer of 2020, I had ended a toxic relationship with a man I felt had rejected me. Now, I look back and I am without a doubt, one hundred percent happy I ended the relationship – I dodge a bullet to be honest. But here is the catch, even though I am happy now, the rejection I felt during the relationship and after cut me like a knife in my heart. At that time knowing I could no longer be with someone I valued felt unbearable. But time moved on and as each day passed I healed a bit more, eventually reminding myself of my worth and strength and learning more of what I did and did not want in my next relationship.  

Here is the thing, rejection does not define your worth. Let me repeat that again, REJECTION DOES NOT DEFINE YOUR WORTH! In fact, it is quite the opposite. Rejection simply means you are worth more than whatever rejected you. Or in other words, the things or person that rejected you did not value you as much as you valued it/them. There was an unequal balance in the value system. Now, I am not saying all my past partners are not worthy either, they are worthy souls, it is just how I view my worth is different than how they viewed it. This applies to all form of rejection.

Helen Keller once said, “character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” How I interpret this, is we humans in order to grow, to become stronger, to strive to be a better person, and to be reminded of our worth must experience rejection. It is through rejection we persist and keep trying to reach our goals and desires, and begin to reject those things that do not value us.

Besides my lover rejections, I have also experience rejection in other areas of my life that I sometimes feel hurt worse: PhD programs and dreams jobs. But here is the thing, each rejection I had eventually made me realized how happy I was to not be accepted into those programs. With each rejection came me learning more about who I am and what I want. Each program I applied too was one I thought I wanted. So much so that with my last application which resulted in a rejection led me to cry in public in the middle of my university where everyone could see me and my ugly cry. I still remember it vividly – hot tears running down my face feeling like a failure. I had no idea what I was going to do as my plan after I graduated with my master’s was to be in a PhD program. But here is what I learned from that day, almost a year later:

  1. I am NOT a failure; in fact, I am a success even if I was not accepted.
  2. My worth was not determined by the program’s opinion about me – in fact, who cares what they think – I am pretty awesome.
  3.  Now that I’ve had some down time and I am not forcing myself into a certain PhD program, I realized the direction I was heading toward was not what I wanted. The rejection actually was a blessing and provided me guidance.

You heard that right folks – THE REJECTION WAS A BLESSING!

Will I continue to apply to PhD programs – you better believe it! But I am a bit wiser now and I now know a rejection simply means the program did not value me as I valued it – and what I mean by this is that the program and I were not right for each other. Each program was a fantastic program and whoever they chose is who they valued and wanted, it does not mean I am not worthy and it does not mean they are a bad program for not accepting me, it simply means the program and I were not meant for each other. And frankly, who would want to be in a program that did not value you? I for sure do not.

Other rejections I’ve experienced are jobs. Now this one is a tough one because I have never been rejected by a company, until now. However, there is a difference between then and now. Prior to school I could obtain any job I applied for, mostly because it was minimum wage job. Today, I am applying for jobs in my field – career jobs. This means more competition as other applicants are just as qualified, if not more. However, with each rejection I get it teaches me a lesson whether that be how to prepare for an interview better by asking friends to do mock interviews with me, or by updating my resume and cover letter refining it each time. Each rejection I got pushed me to better myself and sharpen my job-hunting skills. I would have not become as confident, prepared, and humbled when applying to jobs if it was not for those rejections.

It is hard to be rejected, and I am not trying to down play the hurt. This week alone I was rejected by three jobs and it hurt – one in particular was a dream job of mine. This does not mean I am not worthy of the job or that I cannot do the job it just simply means another person fit the position more than I did.

I decided to write on this subject tonight because we all go through rejections. I have seen friends, family, former students all get rejected and be devastated. They go through life checking off boxes thinking it will guarantee them that position, that acceptance letter, that lover. Have you heard someone state before they did all the things they thought they were supposed to do, yet they seemed to still get rejected? The reality is there is no guarantee for anything. I have kept every rejection email and letter I have gotten over the past few years to remind myself that performing like a monkey, checking each box off does not grant me the acceptance letter. But in fact, it taught me to put the check list away and instead learn, not perform. Life will go on after a rejection, but what will change is how you will learn to value yourself more than what rejected you. You become the value – becoming stronger, more brilliant and beautiful each day. And yes, will you get rejected without a doubt, but you now know it is because they did not value you as much as you value yourself. Don’t settle, and don’t let a rejection define you. So, instead of checking off boxes as a performance measure, lets remind ourselves that we cannot escape rejection and instead of beating ourselves up each time, lets remind ourselves of who we are – we are beautiful people who are just living a life and navigating this world. It is ok to cry and feel hurt when we are rejected, in fact I encourage it because you have to feel the emotions in order to move forward. If you did not get hurt from a rejection, it simply means it did not hold value to you. So, next time you are rejected know that what you desired held value and you are having to let go of that value and move forward. Soon you will find new value and who knows, it could be better than the last!

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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