This is the time of year, at least in the United States, when high school seniors start receiving word from the applications they have made to the colleges of their choice. With an expected freshman class of over three million next fall, rejection letters are inevitable. And being “rejected” can cause a blow to one’s self-esteem.
Rejection and disappointment can make us vulnerable, and when we are vulnerable, we are susceptible to what we see and hear from those around us. While the comments may be innocent and made with the best intentions, we need to be careful about who we listen to and what they say. You see, the decisions we make are based on what we believe. If our beliefs are incorrect, because they are based on someone else’s opinion rather than fact, then we can send ourselves off in directions that get us far from where we want to be.
A quote from Columbia University president, Lee Bollinger, is as true today as when he first said it. “To allow other people’s assessment of you to determine your own self-assessment is a very big mistake.” He hit that nail on the head! No one knows you better than you, and every one of us needs to be careful what we take in, and sanction, from those around us.
We all experience moments of rejection during our lives. Jobs or promotions we didn’t get. Friendship offered, yet refused. Creative ideas that get cast aside. Some rejections are small, and some, at the time, seem very large; still others are, indeed, truly large. How we react to these moments often affects the directions our lives will take.
The good news is that the choices of where to go and what to do are typically up to us. Knowing who we are and what we stand for – our individual “Philosophy of Me” – are invaluable in the decision-making process. Because, when it comes right down to it, to be fully human, the decisions are ours to make.