“Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection.”–Marilyn Monroe
Rejection is a normal part of life anywhere, but in New York City, known as the most competitive place in the world, it happens more frequently. With the population reaching more than 8.5 million and thousands of newcomers arriving every year, it’s not uncommon for hundreds of people to apply for the same job. But rejection can also rear its ugly head when auditioning for a role, trying to get into a hot new nightclub, or looking for an apartment. If you’re living in NYC, you need to learn how to deal with the word “no” (or less-kind versions of it) in order to survive. Here are five things you can do to maintain your sanity and keep your positivity level up.
Don’t take the rejection personally.
By default, it’s hard not to think of rejection as a personal attack. If you’re a songwriter who puts his or her heart and soul into a new track, only to realize that nobody connects with it or wants to listen, then of course it’s going to sting. It might feel like nobody appreciates your hard work, or as if you’re constantly being told you’re not good enough. But chances are, there’s no deeper meaning behind that “no.” You’re not a bad person, you’re not untalented, and you’re not unworthy. For the situation at hand, it just wasn’t meant to be.
Take a step back.
Hindsight is 20/20. After being turned down, step back and take inventory of what happened in the most objective way possible. Is there something else you can work on to improve your chances once the next opportunity comes along? Is there another route you can take to get to where you want to go? In most cases, rejection can result in some valuable lessons learned. Also, keep in mind that rejection always feels the worst when you’re in the moment – but it’s not the end of the world. Not even close.
Do something unrelated.
One thing you should avoid is overthinking rejection and replaying the scenario in your mind to the point of obsession. It’s unproductive, and it won’t make you feel any better. Instead, take a break and do something just for fun. Go out for a party night with your friends, watch a Netflix marathon, take a walk around Central Park, or treat yourself to a massage – anything to give your brain a much-needed break and allow yourself to decompress.
Change your mindset about rejection.
With so much competition, it can feel like experiencing rejection in NYC pushes you an extra step back, just because many others are scrambling for the same goal, whether it’s a Broadway role, a promotion, an apartment, or even a hot guy on a dating site. But if you change your mindset and stop thinking of rejection as this terrible, scary entity, it really helps in moving forward and eliminating any fear of trying again.
Jia Jiang – an entrepreneur, author, and speaker – even created his own game in order to conquer his fear of rejection, during which he thought of ways to purposely get rejected by people for 100 days straight. This included asking strangers on the sidewalk for large sums of money, to asking the staff at Krispy Kreme to create custom donuts for him. The biggest surprise was how many people actually said “yes” to his unconventional requests, which shows that your chances of hearing “yes” are just as high as hearing “no.” So if you’re turned down one day, who cares? The next day, you may get what you ask for.
Be consistent with your efforts.
Fear of rejection can be paralyzing, but don’t let it sway you from your efforts. Just because one option didn’t work out, doesn’t mean that there aren’t several others that will come your way. Did a snobby co-op board turn you down for an apartment? Maybe you’ll find an even better place to live the next week. Did that interview for your dream corporate position fall through? Maybe a more interesting, higher-paying position is just around the corner.
That’s the beauty of New York City – although rejection is an inevitability, more opportunities arise here than you can imagine. Everyone’s in the same boat in terms of having to hear “no” repeatedly, before they get their first “yes.” Consider each rejection as a positive, in that it moves you one step closer to getting what you want. And no matter what, don’t quit the hustle.
“I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection.”–Billy Joel
Do you have any other tips for dealing with rejection? Please share in the comments!
And networking in New York is a huge part of the lifestyle.