In the Face of Rejection – Don’t Ask “Why Me”

Shifting a Disempowering Question to an Empowering One

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Imagine waking up one morning and receiving an email that you have to say goodbye to a country you’ve called home for over 30 years. 

It’s heartbreaking and devastating – the idea of being uprooted from the one place you’ve known all this time. 

How do you say goodbye to a place that felt like home for over 30 years? 

I know the answer, because this happened to me last week. The answer is, “You just do.”

Let me explain that in details. 

I’ve always had a checklist on my Evernote detailing all the things that I have to do if I ever have to leave the country suddenly and return back to my home country, Kenya. There are many reasons why I put that list in the first place, but one reason is because I’m anxiety-prone, and so I tend to optimize my life in such a way to minimize anxiety, and I had the foresight to know that if something like that happened, I wouldn’t have the presence of mind to think of making the list from scratch.

So I prepared it a long time ago.

Of course that worked out perfectly for me, because the second I found out, I opened the Evernote file and I went to full execution mode. 

“Why are you leaving?”

It was usually the first question I got whenever I said goodbye to someone.

“My visa applciation got rejected.”

The follow-up question is always the same…

“Why? Why did it happen to you?”

But “Why me?” is a disempowering question. The better question is one inspired by a story that happened to me in undergrad when I called home one day to tell my dad that my handbag was stolen along with my purse and phone. He could have hammered me with at least 4 questions other parents would have commonly asked, “Did you check lost and found? How did you lose it? Where did you keep it?  How can you be so stupid?” [Because I did leave it unattended for a few minutes]. 

Instead, my dad’s reaction was simple, “The first thing you do is call the bank and cancel your card…”

In my moment of sadness, having something to do kept my mind off things.

So the question that’s better than “Why me?” is this…

“What can we do about it?”

For me, it was executing the items on the list. It was simply by doing. 

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