The legal world is full of rejection. From not getting your dream job to losing a case, there seems to be a never-ending string of negativity. Unfortunately, rejection is a part of life and learning to deal with it is important to managing yourself in a professional environment.
There’s plenty of advice out there for dealing with professional rejection. From taking time to yourself to asking the rejector for constructive criticism, finding what works best for you can immensely help your mental health and allow you to move forward. Lately, I’ve dealt with a lot of rejection while job searching. I’m a great candidate, but there’s always someone more experienced, a better fit, etc. It’s been rough and I’ve grown tremendously since starting my job search back in May.
When I have to deal with rejection, I always think of the scene in John Tucker Must Die where Kate talks about her mom’s coping mechanisms for when guys leave her: “A quick therapy session…or two…or three. Then, we pack up and leave again”. (Of course, here a therapy session is monster bites of chocolate frosting.) To be honest, it’s not the worst way to deal with rejection. When your first rejected, the initial sting is harsh. It’s one of the most awful feelings in the world knowing that you weren’t, well, fill in the blank. But, once the initial sting wears off, it becomes a little easier to deal with the fallout.
So, how exactly do you process and deal with the constant rejection and negativity? I wish there was a one-size-fits-all approach but of course there never it. In the legal world, that’s just another “it depends”. For me, I like to take a set amount of time to just be upset. Whether it’s five minutes or an hour, I need time to be upset that I didn’t get whatever I so desperately wanted. But, my rule is when that time period is up, I move on. When I didn’t get the job I really wanted this week, I took ten minutes. After the ten minutes, I started job searching again for the day. I looked for other skills to improve my marketability. I made a plan to ask my current boss for more work or time to shadow time to learn more. By not harping on my bad feelings, I could think clearly and work toward the goal that slipped away from me this time.
In reality, my set “grieving time” doesn’t always work. I’ve slipped back into the sadness and self-doubt. I’ve felt like a failure and wanted to give up being an lawyer. So, I surround myself with people who truly believe in me. I focus on my best friends who believe I can do absolutely anything I put my mind to. I focus on my family who has watched me go from an awkward kid to a fast-tracked college kid to a licensed attorney. I focus on Patrick, who sees me working toward my goal every day. By listening to those around me instead of the voice in my head, I’m motivated to continue working. Even when I don’t believe it, I want to be the person they all think I am.
Rejection is hard. It’s one of those things I don’t think anyone ever fully gets used to and in law, there’s a whole lot of rejection. Learning proper coping mechanisms and how to move on can work wonders for your professional life. How do you deal with rejection?