Don't let rejection end your dream

reject cat

Don't let rejection overcome you and prevent you from achieving your dreams and landing the career you want.

It took me 15 years to realise that a single rejection doesn’t have to mean the end of a dream. I had wanted to be a journalist since I was 12 years old. Nothing else was going to make me happy.

So when, at 17, I didn’t get accepted into the journalism course I had my heart set on, I was devastated. Negative thoughts played havoc: “Obviously I didn’t have the talent required to enter journalism, I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough”.

There was another journalism course I could have applied for but I didn’t bother because I ‘knew’ they wouldn’t be interested because I’d been rejected by the first course.

I dragged myself through a different degree at university and went teaching. It was okay, but not my dream job! Then 10 years later I ended up in Rarotonga where a magazine was looking for someone to write an article about the arrival of television. I was looking for a challenge and decided to give it ago. Although the article needed a lot or reworking, the editor told me I wrote well and asked if I had ever considered a career in journalism!

A year later I was accepted into the very same journalism school in New Zealand that had rejected me 15 years earlier. I successfully completed the course and spent the next 15 years happily earning a successful living from freelance journalism.

Now I sometimes come across students and graduates who go into the same passive state after not getting into a course or career they had their hearts set on. I implore them to think big, unlike me.

It was a shame I took SO long to learn two basic but very important points about rejection ….

Rejection isn’t failure

One rejection doesn’t mean failure or the wrong decision about a course or career. I let that rejection shape my belief in myself and my potential without checking out other options or trying again to get into the course in the following year. It is too easy to take rejection as failure and a signal you’re on the wrong path, whether it is about jobs or study options.

Have more than one plan!

It is simply silly to only apply for one course or job  - you need Plan A, B and C. You need to think creatively about all other possibilities and look outside the square.

I could have continued to write without attending the journalism course and tried to get noticed that way. I could have visited newspapers and magazines to ask for work experience. I could have researched other courses.

I took no action, just gave up, and it took 15 years to fulfil a dream that could have come true many years earlier. Make sure you don't get caught in the same trap. Follow your heart, find the resilience to overcome obstacles and be who you want to be!

Written by Angela McCarthy, AUT Employability and Careers writer