How to Accept Rejections…And Learn From It
Last week, I participated in the “Adversity Challenge”, where I must do a series of different challenges with the end goal to be REJECTED. The lesson behind the challenge is to push me out of my comfort zone and start developing a habit of “seeking discomfort”. Having immigrated from Hong Kong to Canada at 16, turning from camera shy to active vlogging and posting content on Youtube at 21, I must say this challenge definitely became one of the highlights of my school year.
Challenge 1: Invite someone you’ve never socialized with to a virtual chat
I invited 2 of my classmates with whom I never had a 1-on-1 conversation to a virtual chat. In the beginning, I created a list of 3–4 people whom I met in class but never had a conversation with, then I took a deep breath and sent them a message on Facebook messenger asking for a virtual chat. Very surprisingly, everyone happened to be super responsive and was willing to chat with me. I had two conversations with my classmates (Peter Meijer and Chase Winston) before I get a “no-response” from somebody.
Challenge 2: Reach out to a friend or family member who has shunned you
I reached out to my ex-housemate Fland Pan who has shunned me. We were housemates during my HBA1 year, and at the end of the school year, he threw out my spare tires (for my electric scooter) by accident thinking it was garbage. Over the summer, we didn’t get in touch and this year he moved out to a different place (for personal reasons).
I messaged him saying “how are you?” and intended to schedule a virtual catch-up meeting with him. It took me a while to press the blue arrow to send the message, but I did it. Weirdly Fland responded to me very soon and said yes to my message. We ended up having a virtual chat where we did not talk about the spare tires but just a lot of dialogue about lives as fourth years.
Challenge 3: Try to get a refund at the wrong store
I tried to return a footlong Steak & Cheese Subway sandwich at the Bento Sushi. This is by far the most uncomfortable compared to the other ones. To alleviate my feeling, I had asked Aaron to come with me to complete the challenge. When I was walking to the Bento Sushi with the sandwich in my hand, I was nervous and at the same time curious about how the cashier would react to my request, because it sounds so ridiculous. I stumbled to the cashier, and I opened my mouth, but somehow, I couldn’t say anything. Aaron and I looked at each other, and I said “Hey! How’s it going! May I get a refund for this sandwich here? Or maybe exchange it for this box of sushi right there?” The cashier died, asked me “Are you serious? We can’t do this.” With a questionable tone. Afterwards, I just said never mind and walked away with a sense of accomplishment.
Challenge 4: Ask someone for a job
I asked an alumnus who works at a startup for a job in the winter semester. I cold emailed this person with an introduction of myself and my interest for the firm. Then, fortunately, I was able to get on a call with him where I learned a lot about the start-up and his career trajectory. After the call, I sent him a follow-up email asking for a position for the winter term and he politely rejected me.
At the end of the day, I still felt grateful for this opportunity to be able to speak with him and learn about the creator space the start-up is working within. I believe the end goal of networking calls is not about landing the job, but understanding yourself better, and realizing how little do you know.
If you are reading this, I just wanted to thank you again for taking the time.
Overall, I’ll rate myself a solid 9/10 with the rejection Olympic, where I completed all the challenges while taking away lessons about cultivating a growth mindset. However, in reality, I am probably a 6/10 where I do not take initiative as much as I could, especially when it comes to initiating conversations and building new relationships. However, I realized that accountability has helped me to do more of this, by simply sharing what I am planning to do with my housemates and my families, it strengthens my urge to execute them. (Shoutout to @aaronzhou, Shangbing Jiang)
Key Takeaways & Message To Everyone
1. Rejection is inevitable.
The earlier you get used to it, the stronger you will become. As a student and young professionals, I grew up in an environment where traditional societal belief has a huge weight on your day-to-day decision-making. Rejections have become an enemy for all of us. While the fear of rejections has motivated you to pursue goals like “getting into Ivey”, “landing a good job”. It also alleviates your risk tolerance and makes you less receptive to risk-taking behaviours.
However, to break through the invisible ceiling you have set for yourself, you have to embrace rejections, and master the art of confronting failure. Once you are out there getting used to no-responses, rejections, and feel okay about it. Opportunities will begin to come and come in the most unexpected ways.
2. The Ability to Cope with Rejections like a Muscle
Through more exposure and repetitions, you can better cope with the fear and anticipation of rejections. The rejections themselves didn’t become easier to overcome, in fact, it was because you have a better mindset towards it. Like many things in life, public speaking, long-distance running, the ability to cope with rejection is a skill that is built, not born with.
It is also important to realize that you have to exercise your muscle regularly. Newton’s First Law depicted that “Objects in motion stay in motion.”, it tells a story that momentum is instrumental to starting a habit and changing a mindset. It is important to get into a rhyme of doing uncomfortable things, and as time goes, you will stop letting your inner voice bother you anymore.
Once you are strong enough, rejections will no longer be able to alter your sense of worthiness and motivation, as a result, you’ll be able to go further than anyone else.
Your life begins at the end of your comfort zone