All forms of rejection can be terrible. When someone you’re interested in doesn’t feel the same way about you. When a company keeps their job posting online after you’ve already been rejected for the position. The fact of the matter is that, sometimes there are things in life that are out of your control. No matter how much time and effort that you’ve put in, you need to let the chips fall where they may.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been rejected for things that I’ve really wanted. Somehow I had painted a picture of what my life would be like, but as I get older, I understood the balance of not only looking ahead to the future but also living for the now.

The harsh reality is that rejection never gets easy. Not getting exactly what you want is never ideal. For example, owning your own business and creating your own brand means that the path to success is going to be riddled with challenges and rejection. Growing up, I’ve come to accept the fact that there’s no shortcut to getting what you want. While it’s important to be open to constructive criticism, focusing on all the negatives that come your way is not only hurtful but a waste of time. To me, the secret isn’t ignoring the power of the word “no.” It’s being able to contain it, and use it to your advantage.

Getting older, I now have a lot less patience for things that are a waste of my time. One of the most important things I’ve learned to do is to say no, and I’m obsessed with it. Like when a friend tried to set up an interview for a job that I wasn’t interested in? I said no. When another friend really wanted me to do her make up for her during my finals week? I said no. When a relative tried to set me up with someone that I had no intention on dating? I said no. I don’t mean to say no in a rude way, but in a direct way. I realized that people at first may not like hearing no, but if they really are your friend, they’ll get over it and understand.

Young people don’t feel comfortable saying no. There have been so many times in my life that I’ve regretted not being able to say no when I desperately wanted to. I’ve been talked into buying stuff from mall kiosks, I’ve ended up in prolonged relationships, I’ve even ended up having to do jobs that I had no interest in doing from the beginning. But being a people pleaser can only get you so far. Sometimes, you do have to play the game in order to get to the place that you want to be, but only to a certain extent. No matter what situation that you’re in, it’s important to look out for yourself as well. Because TRUST ME, at the end of the day, if you don’t, no one ever will.

Here’s how I’ve turned the tables on the word “no” —

Hearing “no” means I’m strengthening my brand.
If someone unfollows me or decides
they’re no longer interested in what I have to say, I’m not going to be begging for them to come back. I’m not going to compromise my vision and voice in order to cater to every individual reader. The TTF community is a strong and growing group and we all have a voice to be reckoned with. I’m not saying criticism, if someone has something constructive to say, of course I take that into consideration. But don’t expect any changes on account of a sole vocal opinion.

Someone telling me I’m not good enough. My favorite thing is when someone underestimates me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I’m not good, talented or experienced enough for a position. I’m not insane, I’m not trying to be a doctor without going to medical school. I didn’t “graduate from the school of hard knocks.” People slamming doors in my face only motivates me to work 100x harder to prove them wrong. Where my new “Five-Year Plan” is to be sitting in the exact chair that they’re sitting in and then ceremoniously firing THEM (whoops, that was a different plan). But the point is that it’s not possible for someone to define your worth, unless you let them. When someone tries to explain to you what you are personally capable of, politely thank them for their time, leave, and then come to me so that I can help you become their greatest rival.

Surrounding yourself with YES-men can be even more hurtful than hearing no. While it can be tempting to constantly play it safe, it won’t do you any good. If you’re not challenging yourself and pushing your limits, you’ll never get any better at anything that you do. It’s important to be taking chances and seeing what you’re capable of. Hearing no when I’m taking a risk only means that I’m pushing myself in the right direction. That’s why I feel like people are trusting me to tell them my REAL opinion and actual advice. Otherwise you might as well be talking to the wall, what’s the point with being polite if you’re not being 100%?

No doesn’t always mean “no.” Sometimes, people don’t even know what they’re saying. They automatically say no without really hearing you out. Running your own business and building a brand means you have to hustle and that sometimes means having to be persistent. Some of my collaborators started off saying no to me from the very beginning, but I had to literally ignore what their mouths were saying because I knew in my heart that we were a good fit with each other’s brands. Being persistent doesn’t mean you have to be overly pushy. When potential business partners and clients tell me no, I always respond with — “I hear you, but let me email my proposal before you make a final decision.” If they still so no after that, then no hard feelings.

When other people can’t take “no” for an answer. On the other hand, when people start to get pushy with me and start getting too aggressive it’s the worst. I don’t like feeling pressured into anything. I don’t care if this is the deal of a lifetime, if I’m not comfortable with the person trying make the deal, then I’m not going to associate with that person. It’s important to listen to your gut, and when your gut is telling you that this dealmaker seems kind of shady, that’s the type of red flag that you should be listening to.

Saying “no” doesn’t mean anything personal. When I was younger, I was afraid to say no.
I thought that people would be upset with me if I ever said it. Owning my own brand and starting my own business means I don’t have to cater to what everyone else thinks. If someone wants me to guest on a DIY or partner on a project with them and I say no because I don’t have time, that’s the end of the story. Not that I don’t like them or think less of them. If I’m saying that I’m busy, it means that I’m busy, period. If someone chooses not to believe me, then it’s not my problem. When you’re an adult you don’t have time to be caught up on what everyone else thinks.

So hopefully you guys aren’t going to fear the word no as much anymore. “No” is a specific choice. “No” is an opinion. “No” can be a decision. But it’s not the end all, be all. It doesn’t determine your future going forward, or it can. At the end of the day, it’s still up to you. “No” is what you want it to be, you hold all the cards, not the word.

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