Four Ways to Cope with Rejection (Using "The X Factor" As Your Guide)

Last night I watched The X Factor for the first time. Normally I don’t get into those competition shows. American Idol never did much for me, and I can’t even tell you the difference between So You Think You Can Dance? and America’s Got Talent. But I tuned in to The X Factor to see Britney, of course. Duh. And I wanted to see Demi Lovato too. A few points:

1.) Demi and Simon Cowell definitely have some funny business going on. There is some serious chemistry there. And I don’t know whether to be disturbed or hope that they end up getting married. They’re fun together but that’s a serious age gap.

2.) Demi wears so much makeup. Britney wears the wrong kind of makeup.

3.) Britney is so cute and fun and perfect. Actually, all of the judges are great. This is one contest show I could get hooked on.

But this isn’t a post about this show. That will be for another day. This is a post about handling rejection. As I’m watching this show, I’m hoping that every single person will get sent on to the next round. Especially the people who have to share a bedroom with their mom or work 18-hour shifts for the Department of Sanitation. I don’t understand how these people can get up on that stage and risk getting cut off mid-song and sent home. How embarrassing. But if you think about it, most people have to deal with rejection on a daily basis. Especially in post-college life. Sure, you’re probably not dealing with rejection on a public, televised scale like that, but you’re still feeling the emotional impact that rejection can bring.

Think of it like this: you apply to a job. It’s your dream job and you want it desperately. If you get this position, you’ll be able to leave your crappy job with the terrible boss and finally do something you love. You’ve got a lot riding on the application. You put everything you’ve got into it, but your version of Simon Cowell (maybe someone in HR at the company) gives you a big ole “That was horrid. Absolutely dreadful” in the form of a rejection letter. Or maybe you don’t even get a call back. Yeah, you don’t have to walk offstage knowing that your dentist and uncle and former classmates will see the you get rejected, but your dream is still denied and it hurts.

So how do you handle this rejection (nationally televised or not) and still have the courage to try out for other competition-based reality shows/jobs/promotions/whatever it is that you want in life that involves some risk-taking?

1.) Know that the ends justify the means: When you have a goal in sight, putting yourself out there is a little less scary. Knowing what you’re working for and picturing your ideal end result makes subjecting yourself to hardship more bearable. If you only focus on the difficulty you’ll face, of course you won’t want to give it a shot. It’s better to stay in your nice safe bed–unless you have neighbors blasting horrible music into your bedroom at 6 am like I did the other day–but when you can really picture yourself in your ideal situation, it makes taking risks more appealing.

2.) Surround yourself with support: Accepting rejection is hard. Even when you try not to take it personally, there’s something about hearing that you’re not wanted that feels like a personal attack. When you’re making yourself vulnerable, it’s important to surround yourself with people who love you and care about you and are willing to act as cheerleaders. These people will help keep you focused even when Simon Cowell is in your face.

3.) Have deep-rooted self-confidence: Having people in your corner is crucial, but if you don’t have deep, unwavering self-confidence, then you’ve got problems. Sure, no one has self-confidence no matter what. Self-confidence ebbs and flows. But you need to truly feel that you will be successful and you will do what you are meant to do. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else can convince you of your own worth. You have to buy your own product before you can sell it to other people. Or something. Know what I mean?

4.) Prepare yourself for rejection: There’s a reason your parents tell you not to get your hopes up when you’re a kid; it leads to disappointment. When you’re going into a situation where there’s a good chance you may experience rejection, be aware of this fact and embrace it. You absolutely must feel confident, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by blindly saying, “I’m going to get this job!” or “I’m winning this show!” because then when you’re sent home or you never hear from the hiring manager, you’re left shocked and confused. It’s better to think about all the reasons why you’re qualified for the position. Think about what you need to do to nail the performance or interview. Think about the work you’ve put in to make sure you’re prepared. But don’t pretend that the potential for rejection doesn’t exist. Having realistic expectations is important.Know that you’re prepared and qualified and have done everything you can, but still might get told “no.” And that’s okay.

The next time you’re on trying out for a show with a $5 million prize attached or, more realistically, applying for a new job or a promotion, keep these things in mind as you make yourself vulnerable. What do you do to deal with rejection? How do you prepare yourself for a situation where there’s potential for rejection?

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  1. Great post, Lauren. This topic really hit home with me and it’s definitely helped me soothe the pain of rejection! 🙂

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