Rejected, Rejected, You just got rejected


          Andrew spoke in class about research he did on the validity of doctors telling patients to take the medication they are prescribed until the end of their given dosage. When the research was completed and the findings were composed into an article, Andrew and his team began to send out for publication. With his class at the time, he shared the exciting news with plans to update them as his team went through the process of publication: sharing ended up being a little over eager though for Andrew had not expected the string of rejection letters from publishing companies and that his class would end before seeing publication. It was not until more that a year later that Andrew's article was finally published, the class which he had shared the news with was already well into their summers. Still Andrew did not find complete satisfaction, the views of the publication can be tracked and apparently, though the views were higher in comparison to other articles, the views were low in comparison to his other publications.


            As I was listening to Andrew share with the class the above process I found myself curious to see what his personal feelings towards the rejection were. In high school in my senior humanities class we had a wall of rejection where students could put up their college rejection letters. Personally I never posted anything on the wall of rejection; I was always in awe at those who were able to and would watch them go up and pin their rejection letter up and sit back down. When I saw Andrew pull up the slide of the blown up rejection letter he received I found myself thinking back to those moments, found myself watching his face and reactions, curious to see if this rejection still took a toll on him. My high teacher, Ms. Malcolm, like Andrew had posted her rejection letter to Duke University she had kept. At the time I had thought she was still bitter about it, living in the past. When she showed it to us it's almost like you could see the teenager who opened that letter by the reaction that quickly passed on her face. Andrew said in his blog that he likes seeing "the whites of students eyes" during the study reviews he holds and basing what he teaches off of those reactions; I guess just like him observing his students we observe our teachers/professors. He seemed to still hold the passion my high school teacher held about her reaction but something I heard a couple weeks ago made me come to a different conclusion.

            My graphic design professor was teaching us the correct way to critique each others work, he said: giving a creative person a compliment it can be restricting to them, almost as if you are boxing in their ideas because now they feel the need to keep proving your statement correct. I thought this was interesting because never would I have thought a compliment could be a bad thing but after hearing that examples seemed to be everywhere. The classic example is the people who were popular in high school (accepted/complimented) that can be the highest point of their lives but those who were unpopular (rejected) work harder to disprove that and end up creating a great life for themselves. Then I began to hypothesis (opposite of what I had felt about Ms. Malcolm's reaction previously) that rejections have a more positive effect long-term than compliments.

            I realize that to me it seemed obvious that rejection can make one upset my point may be mute if it is not proven. The American Psychological Association published a study, which is not available in full text without purchase, that I was able to read the general abstract of. The study compared to what I wrote about above, the effects of rejection, by, "examin[ing] children's spontaneous use of behavioral emotion regulation (ER) strategies and their effects on subsequent mood change in response to an in vivo peer rejection manipulation." The study did this by creating a video games based on the TV show survivor and randomized groups of 10 to 13 year olds, 186 total participants, to be either peer rejected (kicked out of the game) or non-rejected. They studied the moods of the participants after they were rejected or accepted, more than one third, 38%, showed a worsening in state mood after rejection. Honestly, this is a lower result than I expected, though still moving there is an effect, and had me modifying my hypothesis to being rejected from something of importance (harder or perhaps impossible to truly test though).

            Looking back to class the other day, a student raised their hand and asked Andrew if he had ever been published in Nature magazine, one of the most prestigious ones, and he responded every 4 or 5 years, this is even a lot more often than other professors, well disregarding the one in the "easy field" to get published in. I felt after he responded to this question one could tell it felt good to say he is not always rejected; Andrew is a man who has already achieved great things so with this rejection, though it hurt, this is not a be-all-end-all rejection. When he tells us he was rejected he can still prove himself to us, and to himself, by stating his previous achievements. This then makes me think back to Ms. Malcolm, she as well can put her rejection letter on the wall with the knowledge that she is where she is in life without that degree she wanted. My hypothesis with this new thought process now changes: A rejection from something of importance to those who have reached a point of success in life, mainly adults, produces a different emotional outcome than rejection does to those who are in earlier stage of life, referring to children and young adults.

            Unfortunately, this most likely cannot be proven due to its in ability to be completely controlled or monitored. Though I believe this observation is substantial I believe because though it is not proven it does not seem to be disproven. Within my research I also found studies on reducing the emotion behind rejection, perhaps explaining why some moods do not fall after rejection, and one way was to get an explanation behind being rejected (similar to the concept of successful people being able to justify it). I think this post just gives a different look into how we get to where we are in life. 

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