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Iyebiye Olawuyi: Dealing with Rejection and Failure

Iyebiye Olawuyi



I left for Lagos a few years ago in search of better opportunities in media. Months before that, I had read as much as I could about getting a job, the qualifications I needed, and many other things as such.

I attended a training organised by a top media company in the city immediately after NYSC, thinking it would be my launching pad to the world. I believed I would get job offers like they were nothing.

To my surprise, as I searched the internet, not only were the jobs really few and far between, but most of the places I applied to never even replied me. Sometimes, our heightened expectation of people or events, often based on weak and unreliable assumptions, are what make rejection most devastating.

After a while, I felt since it would be insanity to keep doing the same things and expect a different result, I chose to switch my methods a bit. I listed the companies I wanted to work with and started cold calling and visiting them one after the other, believing a verbal conversation would do what an email could not do.

When visiting those companies, instead of taking a bus, I would walk the streets to save money. Alas, my desperation and never-give-up attitude didn’t stop the constant nos from dripping in.

At some point, it seemed like with every no I received I lost a little energy. I was almost getting tired. My optimism was draining so fast, it could only take a little while before it reached reserve. Anytime I talked to friends and they suggested somewhere new for me to apply to, I’d have already either been there or sent them an email.

I even had a close friend I expected to be more encouraging tell me to start seeking other options. My struggle was mainly because there was a specific kind of job I wanted, he said. So I zoned in on that to the exclusion of all others. Sometimes, our biggest source of rejection and discouragement could be from friends and family who we expect to accept and encourage us no matter what.

Anyone who has had a similar experience would be able to relate to Mr Eazi’s story of how he said a career in music was what he wanted to pursue while everyone else felt he should get a “proper job” instead. He was not really hurt until his sister who had always been his biggest cheerleader came to him and said she also thought he should get a proper job.

I began asking myself questions like “am I not good enough?” “Are my skills not up to par?” “Why are they not even calling me for interviews at least”? “Why do they not even want to talk?” Sometimes, rejection has a way of making you doubt yourself.

Have you ever seen a job advert that looked just like you? You do everything to craft the application and make it as bespoke as possible, just to be gifted with silence. Silence could sometimes be worse than a no. When you get a no, at least you know where you stand. But when there is no word at all, you start to doubt if you were even noticed.

After praying and waiting for God to shine His light, I saw some contract job application that was just about to close. I almost did not apply; I was tired from a long walk that day. But, it occurred to me that God cannot come down from heaven and provide bread. I had to give Him something to work with. I couldn’t possibly expect anything if I wasn’t applying.

I picked up my tired self from the bed, opened my laptop, and crafted the application in the best way I knew how. I wasn’t expecting a reply; I felt it would most likely be another wink-in-the-dark. Rejection has a way of sapping out all of the positivity in us until we start subconsciously expecting only negative results.

To my deep surprise, a few weeks after, I got a reply that I had been accepted to work for the company for a while. I worked for them and once the contract was over, I was back to where I was before. However, that experience was and is still really valuable to me. Those moments of achievement, acceptance, or other positive experiences we have in life should be celebrated, marked and held dear. They provide the strength to fight and move on whenever we pass through the tunnel of rejection.

A few weeks later, I got an email from the same company saying they needed my services for an even longer contract period. I later became a permanent staff and I have changed jobs since then.

I have had to deal with rejection in other areas of my life but, though all of it happened within a short period of time, I learned how to deal with it in a smarter way. I learned that “No” is just a part of life and you might have to get it in different shades and sizes before reaching the “Yes.”

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Iyebiye Olawuyi is a freelance journalist and content writer who sometimes likes to feel like a coffee evangelist. You can say hello @ikeyslive (Twitter & IG).


  1. AdaAda

    August 10, 2018 at 3:51 am

    Very encouraging. Thank you????

  2. Ephi

    August 10, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience, I could connect with it a whole lot. During my nysc I made the foolish mistake of not applying for jobs as I was convinced I would get a scholarship which I didn’t. Nysc ended and the search began, it was a very harsh experience, particularly the silence just as you described it. I ended up staying at home for months, there were times I wouldn’t leave home for days because of the embarrassment from my neighbors who would gleefully ask so how far? I spent a lot of time praying and crying. Also guess what? Everyone around me in my circle of friends all got jobs almost immediately. I started to wonder what was wrong with me, and what the point of a 1st class was.

    Fast forward to 2-3 years later, I did get a scholarship, did my masters, returned to Nigeria and started working, then got an offer from a MNC which out of all the applicants they selected for the programme chose me to work in their UK office, and so I was relocated all expenses paid.

    The lesson is as a Christian, sometimes God makes us wait to give us the best, and to refine us in the process. I know never to take the glory for where I am today.
    Sorry for the long epistle, just wanted to share.

    • Katherine umukoro

      August 10, 2018 at 10:43 am

      I can relate, been there, thanks for sharing.

  3. BBB

    August 10, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Thank you for this very timely article

  4. Lara Daniels

    August 10, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Thank you very much for this Iyebiye.
    You’re an inspiration to me

  5. Lara Daniels

    August 10, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Thank you very much for sharing this Iyebiye. You’re an inspiration to me

  6. Omowumi

    August 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Thank you for this article ,it comes at the right time.

  7. Teekay

    August 10, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Ah! Thank you! I’m encouraged. I’m holding on to giving God something to work with and rejection is a part of life that comes in different shapes and sizes. Bless you!

  8. Amara

    August 10, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    This is very encouraging. Thank you for this!!

  9. Dede

    August 10, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    I was rejected yesterday. It hurts. And still hurting.

    It’s been a week fews of friendship. She’s everything a man wants. Beauty and brain. I believe I am too. But I was wrong. We dated last week. It was excellent. She admitted how awesome it was! And shower praises on my awesome personality that failed to earn more than friendship. We clicked. Like two love birds. It was naturally a magnet. She chatted me up for hours late that night. Next day, she was the first to say hello. And I was slowly beginning to count my blessings.
    But before I could count the first blessing, I got dumped into the dreadful friendzone.

    I wasn’t physically attrative, she said. Age gap of 10 years is no good for the 25 year old. And finally being a Nigerian earned me lesser points in her dad’s wishes. Three points, I was knocked out.

    I’m working from home today, but between you and me, I’d been reading everything about rejection. Anything at all to make me feel better. A word or two would be appreciated.


    • Trinitee

      August 11, 2018 at 9:19 am

      @ Dede
      Do everything you can to stay strong.
      Rejection is a part of life.
      Sometimes to teach us.
      Sometimes to save us.
      Sometimes to keep the very best for last, so we are better able to manage it and humble enough to appreciate it.

    • Tosin

      August 11, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Eeyaa, pele.

    • Elle

      August 11, 2018 at 10:02 am

      A girl who tells you that you are not physically attractive is not the kind of person you need in your life. A woman should build you up but here she is speaking words that bring you down. Count your blessings Dede and move on, you might not realise it now but will do later. Plus it shows what a shallow person she is. You deserve better.

    • chu-chu

      August 13, 2018 at 9:45 am

      You’ll be fine. It will hurt for a while because more than anything, your ego has been bruised. We are wired differently, somebody like me is attracted to intelligent people. Looks, don’t really matter. You’ll find somebody who can look beyond your physical attributes and like you for your banter and every other aspect.


    August 14, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Just what I needed to keep believing, it’s not being easy men but I’m glad I came across this. Thanks…

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