Three Things Rejection Taught Me

Updated: Jan 7, 2019

Image: Grownish

While spending a semester at Howard University, I've gone out for more things that I could count on one hand. On a campus like Howard's, there are too many opportunities to pass me by. Now of course I wasn't accepted to everything I applied for, because life for sure isn't perfect. Yet, instead of sulking in sadness because I didn't get everything I wanted, I turned my shortcomings into stories I could learn and grow from. While tweaking my resumes, prepping for interviews, and giving Calvin Klein a happy "nice to see you again," there are three things I've learned throughout my journey to find positions that add purpose to my many passions.


After facing the short-lived disappointment of not receiving a position I'd go out for and gulping down a "it gets better" Chai Latte from Starbucks, I would go through the process of thinking--well why didn't I get it? I'd call my mom, often asking for her guidance in times like this because advice can be the best dose of clarity. She'd always ask me "Well did you reach back out to them to see what you could've done better?"

At first I was hesitant because I was still stuck in myself. I hadn't gone through enough "trial and errors" yet. Let's be honest, it's not always good hearing where you went wrong, and criticism can be a pill to swallow at times. Yet, I had to learn how to let go of myself and to be confident enough to admit that I am always a work in construction. That step of reaching out to see how I could better myself is a move toward self-reflection.

It showed that I wanted to grow, and be the best that I could be. Getting criticism from others can be just what we need. Sometimes, we may be either too hard on ourselves, or not hard enough. Others tell us exactly what we need to hear and whether it makes us happy or hurts a bit, the insight is helpful.

I learned to not be afraid of spending a little extra time in the "internal mirror" to fix something that I might have missed before.


I've gone through enough rejections to where I'm completely over having pity parties for myself. At first, I felt down, and that I was not enough at times. But, one of the best things I've learned at Howard is that what is for you, will not pass you. Now, I apply that to every position I send applications to, every position I interview for, and so forth. I don't spend time wondering why I'm not enough for something or someone. I shrug it off, telling myself that If I was truly meant for a position, I would have it.

This tied in with creating a new-found persistence in myself. Now when I don't get it, I go out for something else, in search of that one role that "is for me," or I'll try again when I feel like I've grown into that role.

I had to learn to pick myself up by my bootstraps, remind myself of what I was worth (because sometimes we forget), and keep it moving. Life is too short to sulk in what you think are your shortcomings. I told myself that at some point in my life, I had to put my best pair of shades with the darkest tint, pick my head up, and search for my success. These rejections reminded me that the only person who determined my journey in this life is me and to not let one bump in the road hinder me from finishing strong.


This new spark of persistence had me striving not to stay in one spot. If I didn't get the role I wanted, I'd go out for different one that was related to it, but not quite the same. Life was too exciting to stay in my comfort zone. I had to get out there and get my feet wet in other roles, because how would I know what I truly liked or wanted if I had only just stuck to one thing my entire career?

Rejection will teach you that there is no one way to do things. Life isn't just a straight line that you can't bend to walk over. It opens your mind to the possibilities of anything, and builds your courage to take risks despite the chances of things not going the way you planned. Rejection showed me another side of myself-- someone who's not afraid of writing her own story, no matter how many pages it takes.

-Ashley Lauren

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