Back then they didn't want me. Now I'm hot they all on me 💁🏾♀️
You know that email that starts, "We regret to inform you..." Yeah, I'm no stranger to that guy. I've been denied by scholarships, jobs, travel contests, and teaching programs.
I first got my taste of automated rejection during my junior and senior year of high school. For me, going to college was not a question of if, but rather of where. The problem was how I was going to pay for it...
That's when I turned to scholarships.
Paying for college out of pocket was just not an option. My parents saved and prepared for me to go to school, but the price of college in the States is A JOKE. I know all of zero people that can afford to pay out of pocket.
So, scholarships was the way to go. I started applying to every one I qualified for. Writing essays, submitting transcripts, going on interviews, everything. It was grind time.
Over those two years, I'd applied to dozens of scholarships and got rejected by dozens of scholarships, LMFAO 🤣
It was discouraging in the beginning, but then I got that first acceptance. That first email that said I was selected to receive a scholarship for whatever amount of money it was. All those rejections seemed completely irrelevant because I had done it. I convinced someone or some organization to help me pay for school.
Ya girl was ECSTATIC, okay?
That one acceptance kept me going and then more and more started rolling in. By the time I boarded the plane to Tuskegee University I had received enough scholarships to get paid to go to school... literally.
I had enough money to pay my tuition, fees, room & board, books, and still get a refund. I cracked the code of college in the United States and learned a lot along the way.
If I had let those first rejections deter me who knows where I'd be. It definitely wouldn't be living a debt free life. I know that for sure.
All that rejection prepared me for the next round of life.
My senior year of undergrad I was applying to shit left & right. This time, I was looking for full time jobs in engineering and ways to teach abroad so I wouldn't have to take a job in engineering, LOL.
Job hunting aside, applying to teaching programs abroad had me back in the same boat of receiving damn near daily rejection emails.
Some wanted the kid and some didn't, but I spent A LOT of time applying to these two programs & neither one wanted me 🥲
The first was the Peace Corps. I applied to teach English as a foreign language anywhere in the world for 27 months. I was literally open to all possibilities and still got rejected 😭
I wrote the essays, talked to former Peace Corps Volunteers, and had multiple interviews. I was first considered for a position in Lesotho, but was later denied because of my allergies.
Then Rwanda entered the conversation.
After more interviews I was told that my hair would be a problem and asked if I would be willing to change it. That was a hard no so they regretted to inform me......
The second was a Fulbright Fellowship. I had my eyes on a Fulbright for years & it was finally my time to apply. I chose to apply to teach English in Taiwan for a year.
I spent months writing and editing and rewriting my essays. I completed the long application then had my interview. Ya girl made it to the semifinals and then guess what? They also regretted to inform me......
These were hard pills to fucking swallow.
All my hard work did not pay off. All the writing, interviewing, networking, and crossing my fingers did not get me to the results I wanted.
I was hurt.
When taking leaps of faith and stretching out of your comfort zone there are going to be set backs that let you know that you're aiming high and going for the big risks. Applying for things that you may not even 100% qualify for is one of the biggest leaps and I take them all the time. If you know you have something to offer and can deliver, take the chance. The worse they can say is no.
I've applied this same mindset to finding programs to apply to, job hunting (including remote jobs), pitching to brands, and a lot more. It's cliché as hell, but what's for you is for you.
I was disappointed, but those rejections lead me to Senegal.
Without those rejections I never would've lived in Senegal for five months. Without those rejections I never would've met my amazing students and the countless friends I made while in Dakar. Without those rejections I never would've discovered Yassa, Thieboudienne, Fataya and Madd. Without those rejections I wouldn't have this article to write 😂
Long story short, there is always another opportunity and experience waiting for you.
Those rejections were a blessing in disguise and I can always apply again. My rejections outnumber my acceptances by a landslide, but the key is to keep applying. Whether you've received five rejections or five hundred, you never know what's coming next. It could be the 501st opportunity that is going to change your life.
Rejection is often the reality when doing things outside your comfort zone like moving across the world.
Everything looks good on social media and you would think I'm just country hopping at will, but that's not the case. These days when someone regrets to inform me that just lets me know there's something better on the way.
Whether you're job hunting, applying for scholarships, or looking for a program to move across the world, rejection will be part of the process.
The key is to take every rejection with a grain of salt and not to dwell on it too long. Yes, it's going to sting, but you're one step closer to the opportunity waiting for you.
And always know that I'm rooting for you!
How do you deal with rejection? Let me know in the comments!