Adults in their hoods, Ep 2: Dealing with rejection
In this episode, I speak with Yetunde, a vibrant 26-year old lady who lives and works in the city of Lagos, Nigeria where she bares it all about the first time she came face to face with rejection as a grown up. In this emotional piece, she talks about her struggles with self doubt, battles with old beliefs and journey to reassurance. I had a great time chatting with her for this post and I hope you will enjoy reading too.
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Speaking about rejections, what would you consider to be your first biggest “No” as an adult?
Yetunde: It was definitely the time I went for the US visa interview so that I could further my education to the master’s level. I went for the interview and my application was denied. It was the darkest time in my life because it was the first time the principle that I live by didn’t work for me. The principle I live by from childhood has always been, “if you want something, you work hard towards achieving it while also praying about it”. It worked for me every time until then. When that happened, I was flung into a place where I started to think that perhaps, hard work and prayers are not enough to get things done.
Can you tell me a bit more about what happened?
Yetunde: It was the final stage in my application. I had done everything possible to guarantee my success from the start and I was almost sure that nothing could go wrong at that point. I went for the interview at about 8am in the morning. In less than 30 minutes, I was out of the centre with the signature blue rejection letter in hand. Because it was still early, I remember heading to work with the hope to brave it out. It was really hard because I couldn’t tell anyone about it. I was numb but I had to keep up appearances with co-workers so no one would wonder about what was going on with me. Going to the multi-faith centre to pray during lunchtime was only time that I let myself go. I cried for the longest time. I questioned God. It was that bad.
I think I was shattered mostly because I was not the only one it mattered to. It was important to my family as well, my parents especially. It would have been a collective win. Getting that rejection hurt more because when I told my parents, I felt that they were sad for me. They were very supportive and encouraging but it was really hard to watch them try to be brave for me. I did everything right. Aced my exams and got into a good school. I was even offered tuition because of my excellent results. I only needed to cross that final hurdle. The rejection invalidated a lot of the things that I achieved prior to my arrival at that point.
How did you deal with the situation?
Yetunde: To be honest, I didn’t exactly deal with it. It happened about two years ago and it is only recently that I am comfortable enough to talk about it. I wanted to move forward from it obviously. It was just harder because I couldn’t get memories of it out of my face as quickly as I wanted to. I remember that I was trying to move on shortly after it happened but then I started getting notifications from the school that I could have gone to. They were following up about registrations, with emails. Obviously, they were clueless about my visa application status. The floodgates were open again and I went back to struggling with the whole situation. I didn’t tell anyone else about it because I wanted it to be that bad dream that went away if you told no one about it.
Why do you think it took you this long to open up about it?
Yetunde: It was the first time I realized that you could do everything right and something could still end up not working out. I’ve had my fair share of rejections after that, believe me. It was just the first jolt at reality that I had and it was incredibly heartbreaking.
I think that why I didn’t particularly share my struggles with anyone was because I felt that I needed to deal with it on my own. It felt like a failure on my part. I am usually good at executing things but this felt like a weakness. I was not comfortable showing a part of me that seemed like a flaw to people that have otherwise known me to be a confident person.
What do you think is your take-away from this experience?
Yetunde: After it happened, I immediately removed my hands from anything that had to do with graduate applications or the US Embassy. Mainly because I didn’t want to subject myself to a situation like that again. However, I feel that I am in a better place now. I have since shared the experience with friends and they have reassured me many times. They made me realize I could try again and that failing once didn’t exactly mean failing every time.
One major thing I learnt from the experience is the fact that not every failure stems from laziness. Sometimes, people just fail even when they have worked so hard. These things happen because that’s life. It’s very much changed my perspective about people that appear to not be making significant progress. It has made me understand that people aren’t always full of excuses when they fail. It’s important to cut them some slack.
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