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How to Not Die From Rejection

"What's the worst thing that they can say?"

People say this to us all the time when we're hesitating. And we laugh at our own fear. No is such a tiny word. Not asking guarantees "No." Asking gives the possibility and hope of, "Yes."

And that's why, usually, we go ahead and ask.

"What's the worst thing that they can say?"

But what of the times when it's no trivial matter you're pursuing? Or when you know that maybe you ought to ask, but when and how? What when receiving a no leaves you devasted, dejected, despairing?

What if no is the worst thing you could hear? I'm not talking of not being able to find toilet paper, but of being stuck in that dark hallway with every door slammed in your face. Nowhere to go, and no reason to live.

How do you live in the midst of a broken heart when you knew that was the person for you? How do you live when people tell you your dreams are trash when you are sure they are not. How do you live when life is constantly saying "No" to every good thing, and when you've prepared and tried and yet still feel like a failure?

How can you not die?

Sometimes no is no small word after all.
The only new dress I bought in Germany. 

There was this little boy I used to take care of. He was so little, yet he was determined to pursue harder the things that gave him only a "No" for an answer. 

"No, you can't eat the cat food."
"No, you can't climb the stairs."
"No, you can't have legos."

Every timeI would say "No" his little head would shake and shudder as if I'd just startled him in the most horrendous way. Sometimes he'd even cry. But then he'd try once more, and again I'd say no and bring him to something new. Every time his head would make that little tremor. Every time he seemed shocked at my having said, "No."

But he would always try again. 

It was quite astounding, actually. He let the pain of the "No" course through his body, but he never gave up. And what he didn't realize was that someday my "No" would become a "Yes". Well, he'd never be allowed to eat the cat food. But someday he would be able to climb those stairs and play with those legos. 

Of course, he didn't know that. And all the same, he continued to try. 

Babies are some of the most resilient creatures. As long as they have love, no amount of rejection can stop them from pressing on toward their dreams of growing up. 

We are older, and still, we can not distinguish between the cat food and the legos, or how the two are meant to be used. We are still nothing more than babies, always wanting and reaching for something just a little out of our league. But ... we've somehow changed. We've allowed the tremors to become full forced spasms. We've learned to fear the "No" so much that we'd rather die than keep on. 

Babies are good at getting over the "No" and accepting it for a time and playing with other things. But we older people must focus on rejection. We must be failures, in our mind. Though we are now allowed to climb the stairs, it is no longer enough. 


We were all babies once. The rejection hurt as a baby. Back then we let the pain have its second, then we pursued the dream once more or moved onto better things. Now we pray for death. Or worse, yet, we fear the pain so much we never, never even try. 


I hate rejection as much as any person. There have been times it's hurt so much that I have wondered how I could keep on trying much less living. And to be fair, I do think adult rejection is much harder than most rejections babies receive. 

And yet ... is it? Those little things may just be stronger than us ;) 

Awhile back one of my uncles told me about a YouTube series called "100 Days of Rejection". I looked it up and watched the first few episodes which were amazing. If you don't have time, like me, to watch the entire series, I really recommend this TED talk that the guy, Jia Jiang made.

He tells how he decided to embrace the fear of rejection and prove to himself that it didn't define him. He made himself a list and went out. On the first day, he asked for $100. On the second day, he asked for a free burger refill. Both days he was told no, but he also learned valuable lessons. He didn't run away, and he learned to ask another crucial question, "Why?" This last question may be the hardest of them all.

On the third day, he was surprised to receive a, "Yes." 

And then on another day, he was surprised to find that his "Why" lead to a better "Yes" than what he could have asked for before. 

His journey didn't end with such trivial questions, though. He used his made confidence to pursue his dreams and he went to a college (prepared with a bullet-point outline) and asked if he might teach a class. He was told no several times ... but he kept asking. And guess what?

He found his, "Yes."


I believe that sometimes it is even harder to ask, "Why?" after we've been told no. Because that "Why" could reveal things about ourselves that are keeping us in fear of asking in the first place. But fear should never stop us. Sometimes we will be surprised by the "Why", and even relieved and encouraged. 

And yet, even as we receive unwanted no's, we will also receive hurtful why's. But this should not stop us. The why may hurt. It may make us want to hate ourselves for a time. It might even turn our entire world upside down. Of course, we should also consider the possibility that the reason we have been given may not be 100% authentic. But if it is, we should never deny it. 

If you are told "No" about someone or something you feel you can't live without, and you ask why, and that why it is both painful and true, it's all right to be upset. But this is when you decide what sort of person you will be. Will this pain grow you or break you? Will you allow those criticisms to take you on a whole new path to make a better you?

Here is where you get to decide: Will the rejection make you better or bitter? 

Yes, you may never have what you originally wanted. But will that "No" and "Why" give you something better, if only with a lot of effort and soul-searching?  

It will be very hard when we receive such a worthy rejection. You see, we all love ourselves very much. And when we are torn down, when the image of the idol of who we wish to be is shattered we often give in to self-loathing. Which leads to depression, suicide, or bitterness. This is why it's good to view ourselves in the right manner ... with awe at who God made us, but knowing that He also expects us to worship Him and become more like him. 

Rejection can show us areas we've failed, areas that we have been ignoring. Process the pain of that broken heart or lost dream. But do not let it define you any more than your illusions of perfection may have. Sort through the "Why's" and apply them where they belong.



And why am I saying this? 

It was months ago when I was first introduced to Jia Jian's "100 Days of Rejection". At the time I was full of confidence and "No" was not the worst thing that could ever happen to me. But as I threw myself into pursuing every manner of thing, I found some more dear than others. Some of them consumed me so much that hearing a "No" much less a "Why" was too devasting a thought. 

And yet I pursued. 

And yet I "failed". And I was told no, and then why. And the why was true. And it still hurts. At times I wish to feel angry about it. At times I want to point out, "I'm not the only imperfect one. That my mistakes were in part provoked." 

Sometimes I wonder how I can begin to find a new dream. Yes, there are so many stars in the sky. But none of them shine as bright as that one had and still does. But I have been denied entrance. And so I must accept it and find a better, brighter star. But I must also sort through the "Why." 

Because I not only want to heal, I want to grow. 

My entire life has been full of rejection. I think we can all say this is true. But in Germany, and since then, I have truly experienced the peace that comes from trying and failing and not being broken but built up by it. Just going to Germany and getting my passport without a social security number was a huge, "Yes" that fueled me through so much of what would follow for the next six months. 

With my first au pair family and being sent away, with the friends I made there, with friendships back home, with endeavors, with Wing Chun (post coming soon!), with learning a new language, and with writing. On some level or another, I experienced countless rejections, some of them utterly devastating. 

I do not want to be defined by rejection, or even what made that rejection necessary. I want to be defined by how I reacted to it and who I am becoming because of it. 

And so, I am trying to see the hard truths and be better for it. I am trying to listen to God's guidance through it all. And I am trying to love better because at the end of the day it all boils down to loving, doesn't it? 

 Have you ever dealt with rejection, so hard and confusing that your entire being and soul convulsed? How did you survive, besides by the Grace of God? 

Does rejection make you BETTER or BITTER? 

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of what is happening inside of me right now. I plan to have a couple more posts from Germany this month. Thank you all for being such great readers and interactors! 


  1. This post is so amazing! <3 I hadn't thought of how little kids take rejection and grow to keep trying! They are strong little ones. ;) Great post, Keturah!

    1. Little kids can definitely teach us a lot. Which brings us ever back to Yeshua's words, "Be as the little children." Thank you!

  2. Lifegiving words I needed to see today. Thank you.

  3. I think rejection makes me stronger, though everything works out differently. Like in sewing for fair; each time I don't win I keep trying harder. I keep getting better. I'm really trying hard to not give up on things I really feel strongly about and love so much. Even if it feels like on one else cares that much.
    Nice post!

    1. If it's making you stronger, then you're certainly better not bitter. That's awesome! The sewing is such a great example, especially with judging involved. Keep on entering; your stuff is awesome!!

  4. Ohh, I love this! There's so much we can learn from children. <33

    1. Thanks! It's so true, and I've been realizing this more and more.

  5. I think I learnt more from rejection than I ever learnt from success. Great post!

    1. Crazy, but real. And yet ... success is sweeter and more cherished at the end. So I still prefer it once all is said and done. Rejection grows me, but success remains ever the goal. And with only that mindset can rejection be truly meaningful ;b

  6. I love this. Rejection is hard, but I've never grown so much as when I get rejected.

    1. Thanks, Lila! Yeah, it's amazing how we must love it for the reason of growth alone :D


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