On Rejection

Did you ever apply for a job you knew you were perfect for, only to reach the final stage and receive notification that the other candidate got in? Quite often you will not even get a clear reason so you have to rely on your thoughts and support system; ” God is planning bigger things for you.” “Maybe he/she knows someone. Your job will come.” “They weren’t paying what you are worth anyway..” This could go on but when you are alone, in bed at night, all that matters, all that you keep replaying is ‘I did not get the job.’

I applied for several grants and fellowships from the last quarter of 2017 till March. All but one have sent feedback. To paraphrase; “You are doing great but here are the people we think are really doing great…” The weird thing is that I often see these links and want to apply because they sound like a good fit but I pack them for later, then a friend says ‘Wow, if this isn’t for 4040, I don’t know what is!’ I get encouraged. A near stranger finds my social media page and says they thought of us reading the criteria. Suddenly I am pumped all over again. I am not crazy, other people see it too! I start to type away, find supporting documents, references, attach, pray and wait.


A couple of weeks ago, I made it to a waitlist for a conference I really wanted to attend. I could think of all the ways we’d benefit just by being in the same room with outstanding leaders from the world over. The update came in, “We are not able to select you due to…” You are lucky if you receive a specific reason for the decline. More often than not, you will not because you and 17,654 are receiving an identical email.

Up till now, my entire leadership journey has been 100% learning on the job. My mistakes can/do affect many others. I’m desperate to learn from others, share ideas, grow and in turn grow my own team back home. As for the funding, don’t get me started. I am subscribed to several platforms and get daily notifications of grants. I carefully read through and bookmark the ones we qualify for. It often ends the same way. For these ones, their reply is ‘blue ticks’ to show that you did not get past the sorting process 

You think that 6 years later it will no longer hurt but it still does. So, these days I give myself a whining/self-pity period of 1-2 days, then I get back up. On Saturday, I got the most painful rejection this year (so far), took Sunday to wallow and on Monday sent an audacious proposal to a bank asking for Ugx 50 million spread over 5 years. (Pray with me, please?Thanks!) It could be really great or it could be another rejection. The important thing is to keep trying, keep rising.

I am aware of all our other wins and do NOT take them for granted at all. Matter of fact, their existence is all the evidence I need that we are doing something right and and AND…they came through blood, sweat and tears SO..we can only wait for these ones to materialize as well

Have you undergone a similar (long) wait for that breakthrough? Family? Work? Relationship? Health? Spirituality? As an experienced ‘waiter’ (one who waits, not one who waits on tables) please stop with the timelines. Use them to push you to your goals but don’t let them define you. Just because your promotion didn’t come in the 3 years you expected and your 35-year-old self hasn’t birthed a child does not mean they will not happen. Your healthy eating plan isn’t working? How about we eat our pork in peace then exercise?

But also consider this, “What is the plan if they do not come to pass?” Suicide or survival? The truth is most people give up when they are close to the finish line BUT it’s important to remember they got to the race in the first place. It is okay to give up, sometimes even necessary but we can also keep trying and create an encyclopedia on our mistakes/what not to do. Isn’t life grand?

Semi-related: Find someone in your life who is doing a great job, especially despite the curve balls life is sending their way. Tell them in detail (or not) how awesome they are and why you think so.

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Written by Esther Kalenzi (0)

Celebrating life and humour; attempting to make a difference in deed and through my first love, writing.

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