A shameless confession about fear and rejection from a serial pessimist

A while ago, someone told me that it seemed like I had my life together. I responded with a list of all the rejection that I had received in the last few months, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Here’s why:

PS: If you get bored, scroll to the bottom for a list of my rejections!


 

 

I have a deeply engrained fear of rejection.

Sometimes I tell myself that it’s because I come from a hyper-competitive asian family. My parents and their friends measure their kids and their success on asian social media platforms like WeChat as though we were plants growing in their vegetable garden.

I was a very asian, very chubby baby!

Other times I tell myself it’s because I have a former/current fat girl complex and always felt the need to overcompensate by trying harder than the people around me.

Sometimes I also blame it on social media, and how easy it is to see how successful everyone else is after a quick search on Facebook or Linkedin.

Regardless of where exactly my fear of rejection stems from, you can probably guess that University application season was not fun for me. I have spent an embarrassing amount of time laying in bed obsessively stalking friends, and even people I had never met before, who had been accepted into prestigious universities or received huge scholarships. After a few hours, I would convince myself that everyone around me was happier and more successful than me, become adequately pessimistic, and go to sleep. This was definitely time I could have spent studying, and I can admit that it was an error on my part.

However, I also think that there is something fundamentally wrong about the way we approach rejection. Every successful person I know has experienced what appeared to be more of a rotated sine wave, rather than a constant upwards trajectory. Fear and rejection is not the opposite of success, but rather a measure of our ability to someday obtain it. That’s why I believe it’s so important for us to be more transparent about our fears with others. Seeing people that I respect open up about rejection they received did not make me think any less of them, but actually motivates me to continue applying for things I wouldn’t have otherwise. As a result, I believe we all owe the same favour to those around us as well.

                  Rotated sine wave (in green) vs. a linear graph (in blue)


Now, without further ado, here’s the part of the article that you guys have been waiting for, a list of some of my most soul-crushing rejections:

  • I got rejected from 4 of the 5 universities I applied to in the states, this cost me over $600
  • I got rejected from a summer job out of a pool of only three applicants
  • I was chosen as a finalist for a scholarship out of a pool of 2400 applicants and didn’t receive it!
  • I barely passed my Grade 7 piano exam with a score of 72%
  • I got a 64% on my Grade 11 Physics Final Exam

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