It's never easy to be turned down. We build up hopes that someone that we like will like us too, but it turns out that "they're just not that into us". We pray that the interviewer thought as highly of us as we did of the company to which we have just applied. We wait for the call, but none comes. We bare our soul on online dating sites with the belief that a kindred spirit will discover us; but no one does. We spend hours with a customer trying to make the sale and then hear nothing. We wait to be noticed, but feel invisible. We rehash conversations and second-guess what we may have said or done that is causing this rejection and end up feeling sad, hurt, unwanted or unloved.
How do we keep our spirits and confidence up when the powers that be seem to be conspiring to bring us down? First, we need to recognize the strength and courage that we have demonstrated in trying in the first place. Sitting back and watching the world go by is easy compared to opening ourselves up, allowing ourselves to become vulnerable, asking for or trying to attain what we want. So instead of punishing ourselves for not being chosen, we should be celebrating our bravery for trying out.
Second, it is important to understand the odds that we are facing and not take rejections as personally as we tend to do. For example, it is believed that for every eight inquiries that a salesperson receives, that only one will follow through on a sale. That means that there is an 87.5% chance that no sale will be made. There are any number of reasons why someone may not hire or date us and most times it has little to do with us and more to do with circumstances that are outside of our control.
To illustrate this, we may consider an experiment conducted by virtuoso violinist, Joshua Bell and written about by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post in 2007. Mr. Bell stationed himself as a busker in a Washington metro station and performed the very same selection of pieces that he had played a few nights earlier before a packed audience who had paid a good sum of money for the privilege of seeing and hearing him. Of the 1097 people who passed him in the subway station on their way to work, 27 stopped momentarily to listen and only one recognized him. He made a total of $32.00 and change in donations. It didn't seem to make a difference that Bell is considered one of the best violinists in the world, that he was playing what many consider to be some of the most difficult pieces written for violin or that he was playing on one of the most expensive instruments, a $3.5 million Stradivarius (follow this link to watch the YouTube video). So when we feel unnoticed, perhaps it has more to do with the speed with which many of us live our lives, and not because we are not worthy of notice.
Third, while we may be hurting, at least we are feeling something. Some of us have lost the ability to experience much feeling after deadening ourselves to past pains and hurts, so it is important to recognize that being able to feel, even negative feelings, is a really good thing. And while it may feel painful to be spurned, it is, as they say, "better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all".
Finally, let's not lose sight of the importance of doing what we love, saying what we feel and asking for what we want. Eventually, someone will notice.