By the time you have entered your 20s, you have already dealt with a fair share of rejection. Getting rejected from your dream school, getting a rejection from a job, not getting the internship you wanted, etc. You agonised over job board after job board, reached out to friends and family to “network”, wrote and rewrote your resumes, edited cover letter after cover letter, only to get the “sorry, but we have decided to go another way” or “we decided to go with someone more qualified” email after a few days. It is hard to bounce back from that. I have just recently become acquainted with these ego crushing words myself and have been having a difficult time picking myself back up after reading them. When I see those emails, the same thoughts always pop up, “Did they even read my resume? What qualifications did other applicants have? How was I supposed to get experience if people will not take a chance and hire me?” You put in four years of hard work and thousands of dollars to get a degree and now you cannot even get a decent paying full-time job? The worst is when you see your peers and friends moving away, getting jobs at fantastic firms or companies, becoming nurses, going to medical school, and landing dream internships. You feel like you are the sole person getting rejected. I began to feel like I was not good enough. I was applying to jobs I was 100% qualified for and still getting rejected! Talk about a massive blow to my self-confidence. I realised that I was looking and comparing myself to such a small number of people, which was skewing my research massively. So I decided to expand my research pool, and what did I find? I was most definitely not alone. Pretty much everyone in their life has been rejected from a job at some point and time. And, they were all able to somehow find a way to deal, move on and become successful. I mean look at Michael Jordan, he was rejected from his high school basketball team and then went on to be one of the greatest players in NBA history! So, if others can get back up again and handle their rejection, I should be able to as well. So with that, here are some of the ways I have begun to learn how to cope with rejection:

EVERYONE Goes Through Rejection

Think of the absolutely most successful, hard-working, awesome person you know. For me, it’s my father. He got his MD degree in India, came to the US and did his residency in New York, then did his fellowship in University of Florida and a second one in Fort Worth, Texas. He then went on to work for places like UCSF and Stanford, two of the top ten hospitals in the country as a pediatric Cardiologist. He was even voted top 50 doctors in California for multiple years in a row! Talk about some big steps for me to follow! However, before he went to University of Florida, he applied to Harvard, his dream school, and was rejected. So, knowing that my dad was rejected from his dream school and still went on to become one of the most successful people I know shows me that even though I may be experiencing some rejection now, everything will eventually work out in my favour. It isn’t something me or you are doing wrong, we just have to wait for the right time, offer, and company to come along.

Focus on the Positive Things That are Happening to You Right Now

Ok so you do not have a full-time job yet, or you hate your current job and want to leave/get hired ASAP! But, take a moment, appreciate where you are at right now. I just graduated college! I got to spend the summer with my boyfriend and my best friends, going on hikes and on days trips to Portland, and just hanging out and having fun! Appreciate the small things, no matter how minuscule they may seem. Your career may not be where you want it to be right now, but you have your friends, your family, your significant other, your pets, whoever that loves and supports you. Think positively. Maybe you really dislike a coworker, but you got a really good parking spot! Or your boss is really rude, but you just got to make and eat your favourite meal! It’s the little things that make your day great! Focus on them instead of how bad your job is and how much you dislike that boss or coworker.

You Know the Saying: Everything Happens for a Reason, It’s True!

This is most common, mundane piece of advice because everybody seems to tell you this in some form, HOWEVER, it really is true! Looking back at all the colleges I got rejected from, it was really a blessing in disguise. I would not have met my 2 roommates who have been my best friends for the last 3 years, I would not have been a part of some really eye-opening clubs, I would not have met my boyfriend, I would not have created a network of close friends that loved and supported each other, and I would not have had two of the best bosses! Sure getting rejected from some of my dream schools like UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara were soul-crushing and defeating. When I saw some of my friends getting into those schools, man did I destroy myself esteem with the comparisons. They had to be smarter than I was, they clearly were as they got into better schools than I did, right? Wrong, they worked harder than I did. I was just as smart, I just never worked hard in high school, but that changed once I got into college, I never wanted to face that kind of rejection again.

Then came job applications after graduation. I applied to multiple jobs, all of which I was 60% or more qualified for. I would get the first round interview, and then a day later get the rejection email. How was this happening again?!? I was tailor-made for these positions AND they would have prepared me so well for law school when I start applying in the future. But no, I was cast aside and someone else got the position. The comparisons to this unknown being began, an influx of negative thoughts, and degrading comments about myself. It was a rough patch, let me tell you. But then, I read that the place that rejected me had actually cut the whole legal department — talk about dodging a massive bullet! I would have moved all the way to Seattle, signed a binding lease, only to live in an expensive city with no job two months later. Not a good situation to be in, at all.

So long story short, getting rejected hurts. It really makes you question your abilities and self-worth, but you cannot give up because your time WILL come. The right opportunity will come along, but until then you are just going to have to work hard and be positive! You are not alone in the rejection club, I’m here too and so are thousands of others. Just have faith in yourself and apply like a crazy person! The right job and experience will come along.

-Shalini Avasarala