My sister called me Tuesday afternoon crying. Through tears and sighs, Mia told me she just received an email from a veterinary clinic she interviewed with informing her that they had decided to offer the position to someone else. My sister is 17. Rejection at any age is disappointing, but when you are a teenager, it can feel like you literally can’t even. In other words, my sister felt hopeless, worthless, and uninspired. It was time for me to conjure up a Denzel Washington worthy sermon to bring her back down to earth, dust her off, and put her back on the path to success.
My inspirational speech began with a simple question. “Do you know how many times Beyoncé has been told no?” Mia gave me a courtesy giggle, but was mostly nonplussed. Quickly and loudly, she continued to blubber. Clearly, I had to do better than a Beyoncé reference (impossible). When her weeping subsided, I tried again. I explained to her that rejection will be a part of her life, always and forever. Some people hear it less than others, but everyone gets a “no” at some point. Determination and persistence are what will keep you from becoming a LeToya Luckett. You don’t know who she is? My sister didn’t either. She was an original member of Destiny’s Child. She was told no. So was Beyoncé. You see the difference?
When I was a freshman in high school, I tried out for the varsity cheerleading team. I was one of two girls that did not make the team. The other girl was really bad, so the fact that we both had been chosen for JV should be an indication of how good I was. I went home that night and cried for what felt like forever, and of course ate a carton of ice cream. After last call at my pity party, I made a promise to myself that if I was going to be a Junior Varsity cheerleader, I was going to be the best one my school had ever seen. Over the next few weeks, I practiced, tumbled, jumped, danced, and yelled harder, faster, higher, better, and louder than any cheerleader on any squad. When one of the Varsity cheerleaders quit the team a few weeks later, my coach informed me my hard work had paid off and immediately moved me to Varsity. LeToya who?
It is easy to give up when it feels like the universe is against you. No one is immune from the down-in-the-dumps emotions that creep up on you during hard days, weeks, months… But as I explained to Mia, no one remembers – or even truly knows – the exact number of rejection letters you get, or the job offers that were given to someone else instead of you. What people will remember – and truly know – is the level of resilience you exude. After your tears have dried up and there is no more junk food left in the house, rejection should be converted into fuel that lights a fire under you. Turn every “no” into “nobody is going to stop me”. Never give up on your goals.
To close, I leave you with the wise words of Sylvester Stallone: “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.” How about that?
My sisters – Mia (right, 17), and Madeline (left, 16)
Mia doing her best Beyoncé
– Melany Levesque