Three Lessons from my First Month of Rejection Therapy

To be honest, I thought I’d feel more successful right now. You may be thinking—why would you feel successful? You are trying to be REJECTED. Okay, I see that, but I thought I’d have more interesting rejections by now. I almost feel like my rejections haven’t been BIG enough. The truth is I may just be more of a Type-A overachiever than I realized, but even with all that said, my rejections ARE teaching me things. 

julia january rejection therapy
Photo credit: Nicole Ashley

I’ve had introspection this month to a level I haven’t in the past – and really, in a WAY I haven’t in the past. I am a chronic overthinker, but flipping my thinking to focus on the challenge, instead of my personal attachment to the emotions of rejection, has been empowering. 

For instance, I’m really enjoying this writing thing. So much so that I asked Kristen if I could join her staff of writers (I mean, I love a good side hustle). When she let me know she didn’t have the capacity to bring on another writer, I was bummed. When she replied, “OMG do I count as a rejection?” I realized I HADN’T EVEN FULLY COMPREHENDED I was rejected. I was just gloomily like, oh bummer, so much for that opportunity. 

Then, two things happened: I perked up (one closer to 100!) and I keyed in to what I could learn from this rejection, instead of just being gloomy; I recognized my feelings of dismay, and I asked what it was telling me: I want to write more. Now, I’ve been reflecting on where else I could bring writing into my life – as well as just considering if it IS time to start my own blog!

The rest of what I’ve learned I’ve summarized in THREE BIG takeaways:

1, Set micro-goals within the bigger goals [Dating]

Let’s start with the obvious. I thought I’d be dating A LOT MORE. I was like, cool, as soon as I start this challenge, I’ll just walk up to cute men in Whole Foods and say, “wanna get a drink?” because I’ll have to for my challenge. I “estimated” ~7 rejections in the dating realm, but I didn’t “promise” it.

But I soon realized I wasn’t prescriptive enough when I started this challenge. I allowed myself to gravitate toward the rejections that would be “easier” to face. For example, my boss saying no to a promotion is chill – I’ve been in my current role for under a year. My self-esteem can handle that rejection. On the flip, I tend to take MOST things very personally in the dating realm. Vulnerability is much harder for me than I like to admit, so this rejection takes greater gumption that I had at the ready on January 1. To face this, my new micro-goal for February is to go on 4 dates. 

2. Meditate your way to inner peace [Career]

This month rocked me a bit. Emotionally, personally, professionally. I work in sales, and our fiscal year end is January 31, which equates to high office anxiety in January. I struggled with a lack of control around managing the stress of those around me and dealing with my customers’ (sometimes nonsensical) decision-making processes. I was rejected countless times this month, and my paycheck holds the evidence.

But then my gym, Ethos Training Systems, hosted a meditation challenge for its members. The raffle prize for those that completed 10 Headspace meditations included a Lululemon gift card – so you KNOW I was on that. 

Midway through January, I was falling behind, so I jumped into a conference room midday at work and did a quick ten minute meditation. As I walked out of the room, I realized I felt almost buzzed. Free and peaceful. The frustrations of just 12 minutes ago had evaporated, their power almost gone. I kid you not – I had a moment where I thought, surely this is too good to be true? 

Today, I am on day 12 of my meditation streak. That’s hardly a drop in the bucket of my lifetime, but it’s something I am gleeful about. (I’ll take this moment to plug my February meditation challenge – head over to Instagram @jmlfitlife to learn more!) More, it’s helping me build better defenses against the overthinking that comes along with 100 rejections.

3. When people say YES, be ready for it [Passion Project]

I’m a 7 enneagram. We LOVE LOVE LOVE fresh starts. So when I feel bored even in the least (please see above wherein all my customers have ignored my advances to buy things this month), I hunt excitement. This month, I fell down the blackhole of “what do I want to do with my life?” – okay, let’s be honest, I fall down this blackhole often. 

Regardless, I came across a start-up based in Brooklyn, NY that resonated with me hard. Their mission, their founders, their branding – I listened to numerous podcasts on which their team was featured. I grew obsessed with the idea of meeting the co-founders and pursuing a relationship with this organization. What that looked like, I honestly didn’t know, but I knew two things: I was actively seeking rejections and there was no harm in asking.  

So I wrote a letter.  And then I stalked the organization until I could figure out their email convention. Then I emailed their co-founders the letter asking if we could meet in person when I visit NYC in February. 

Here’s the part that makes me laugh. Within 15 minutes, they’d replied, suggested times they were available, and sent me a calendar invitation. And then, I was like OH MY GOD. Wait, this is happening? What am I going to say to them? What do I want out of this meeting? What am I going to wear? Do I even know anything about this company? Are they shady? Are they operating with a viable business model? Am I crazy? What would my dad say? (Hopefully at this point, you’re feeling just as thankful as I am that I found some meditation in my life, wow.)

Tbh, I haven’t answered all of those questions, but I’m taking a breath and accepting that this is the joy (and uncertainty!) of not hearing “no” and instead, getting to see what’s ahead on the horizon. And I think this is part of the challenge that we’re all supposed to pay attention to: what unfolds when you face rejection – and are then IN FACT not rejected? Well, then you get to explore something that maybe is quite possibly a path in life you’d never considered. Buckle up.

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About Julia Lynch

Born in Cleveland and raised in Atlanta, Julia found her way to Chicago and has taken the city as her own over the past five years. She fell in love with writing as a child when journaling was her chosen way to gossip with herself after a long day in grade school. Once she realized it was hard to make a living as a writer and that being a doctor would mean a lot of debt, she decided to pursue business at the University of Notre Dame, cementing her Midwestern identity. With a smattering of roles across consulting, marketing, and sales post-grad under her belt, Julia now considers herself a problem-solving guru and loves the challenge of making small-talk at any networking event she stumbles upon. When she isn't burning through ClassPass credits, Julia teaches Pilates at BODYROK in River North. She also is an avid traveller, currently plotting a 30th birthday trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as well as a girls' trip to Tulum, Mexico. Being around her friends and family is the greatest joy of her life (well, alongside starting new passion projects as the Type 7 Enneagram that she is), and she cannot wait to see what memories are left to be made ahead of her.