I grew up in a community where going to college is a dream instead of an expectation.
Through hard work and luck, I completed my dream of graduating college debt-free last May.
It took me 283 rejections to get there.
From January 2009 to May 2011, I applied for more than 300 scholarships. Each Friday, I would walk to my mailbox, mail off two new application packets, and walk back in my house with a handful of rejections.
I was rejected for multiple reasons: my test scores weren’t high enough; my essays weren’t compelling enough; my stories weren’t interesting enough.
But each week I continued to send more applications until enough people said “Congratulations” and I had enough scholarship money to attend any university and graduate debt-free. At Yale University, that meant leaving without a $250,000 bill.
If I were to start over again, I would gladly take another 283 rejections.
Rejection teaches you how to be successful and in the process, improves your life.
When you are rejected
1. You realize you’re still alive
When you go after what you want be it a person, a job, or a scholarship, you realize that the worst thing that could happen is someone tells you “no”. Yes, there is a painful feeling afterwards, but you didn’t die.
2. You don’t have regret
Rejection comes as a potential outcome of going after what you want. The alternative was to not go after what you wanted. Had you not gone after what you wanted, you would have only regrets. The pain of rejection lasts temporarily; the pain of regret lasts forever.
3. You separate yourself from other people
It is tough to ask for what you want; so most people don’t. By just taking action, you already moved closer to your goal than others could ever dream to be. Fear of rejection isn’t meant to stop you, it is meant to stop everyone else who didn’t want what you want badly enough.
4. You become a better person
With every rejection, you begin to evaluate the reason for your rejection. Every piece of feedback you receive only helps you to become better and increase your odds of succeeding next time. As your number of rejection increases, so does your number of successes.
5. You feel more motivated
There is nothing like being told you couldn’t do something that motivates you to want to prove your doubters wrong. Learn to use your rejection as fuel and you’ll never run out of energy.
6. You grow tougher skin
The first rejection is tough; the second is easier. You’re already caught in the storm, what is a little more rain?
7. You appreciate what is going right in your life
When you get hit with enough rejections to line your bedroom walls, you learn to appreciate those people who had given you an opportunity, those who supported you, and those who believed in you. We spend so much time thinking about what we isn’t going right in our lives, that we forget about all the beautiful things that are going right. Rejection gently reminds us of all the great things and people in our lives.
Our successes allow us to achieve the things we want to achieve. Instead of chasing after success, we should become the type of person that success is attracted to. Rejection teaches us how to be that person. If you’re not willing to risk rejection than you’re not willing to accept success.
Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) grew up living on food stamps and welfare. Today he is a graduate of Yale. He uses his experience to give people the tools to build better lives for themselves and their families such as passing on the success secrets he learned during his time at Yale.