“Thank you for your interest, but we have decided not to move forward with your application.”
Whichever flavor of “rejection letter” you receive (aka, HR didn’t forget about you), they all carry a similar message, and for a long time, the way my brain registered that message was always the same. My mind would start plastering R-E-J-E-C-T-E-D across my brain in bright red letters, and that feeling of defeat would spread all the way down to my toes.
We’re all aware that in most instances, rejection is subjective, but that fact did little to comfort the blow. For every time I’ve been given the advice to “take the personal out of it” and “they’re not rejecting you, they’re just rejecting the paper version of you”—I say thanks, but no thanks. At least in my case, it was nearly impossible to not take it personally when it felt as though the total sum of who I was had been branded with the word “NO.”
Each rejection was completely demoralizing because I viewed them as the final destination, the all-encompassing “The End.” “I must not be good enough, I should’ve gotten more experience, I’m not interesting enough”—I analyzed each aspect of my application, hoping to find a fault to fix, but there was no error. The error was my mindset.
In Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she discusses the “Power of Yet.” A high school in Chicago substitutes an “F” for “Not Yet” when a student doesn’t pass a class, allowing students to understand that they are on a learning curve—that success is not a straight line. Dweck explains that the “Power of Yet” allows individuals to reshape how they face adversity and that this mindset helps them exceed later on in life.
I felt the “Power of Yet” early on in my career when I made it to the final round of an interview, only to be passed on by someone they felt was a better fit. I ended up at another job as a receptionist and that became the whole foundation of my future careers. It gave me soft skills, credibility, referrals and trained me within an inch of perfection on the ability to multitask (all my fellow receptionists, I have mad respect for you). A few months into my receptionist job, I got a call from the previous job that had passed on me, asking if I was still interested in the position. Two weeks later, I was officially hired for the job I had wanted from the very beginning. Apparently, the person they had hired couldn’t handle the stress of the job and decided to quit. A few months prior, there’s a good chance I couldn’t have handled the stress either, but now armed with my receptionist experience, I was a pro at juggling.
It’s true what they said: I wasn’t ready, yet.
Turning “no’s” into “not yet’s” changed “The End” to “To Be Continued.” If I had closed the chapter on that job and threw away the book, I wouldn’t have been willing to try again. We truly don’t know what the cards hold for us or which chapter will be the end of our story. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re unqualified, it just means it’s not your time. You’re not ready, yet. This change in how I approached rejection was 110% less demoralizing and 120% closer to the truth.
The “Power of Yet” creates possibilities, so when the sequel to your hit novel releases—you’ll be ready.
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