Ask Chloé: How to Deal With Rejection

Welcome to the Ask Chloé column on Security Boulevard! Each week, Chloé provides answers to readers’ questions to help guide them as they navigate the technology industry. This week, Chloé offers advice to an InfoSec professional struggling to handle rejection.


Dear Chloé,

I’m struggling with job and public speaking rejections. I was wondering if you have any advice on how to deal with rejection because it’s so much easier to stop applying. 


Rejection Hurts


Dear Rejection Hurts,

First, don’t ever allow rejection to stop you from reaching your goal. And it’s also a way to refine how you respond to feedback. I always think of rejection as a learning experience that can show me how to do better. It’s a moment of reflection you can use to really get clear about how badly you want something. Once you have reflected on the rejection, use this experience as a motivation to prove to yourself you have what it takes. Most importantly, this is not about proving someone else wrong about you, it’s about proving to yourself that you are fully capable of achieving whatever it is you are going after. 

When it comes to your emotions, it’s okay to feel hurt. It’s so important to experience your emotions fully and not to bottle them up. Try to stay in the moment, explore those feelings and ask yourself why it’s hurting. Sometimes journaling helps on this front. You may find that a rejection is linked to past experiences you need to better understand and deal with.

One thing to remember is that negative self-talk can become hurtful. If this is an issue, I recommend correcting your internal statements to have a more understanding and positive outlook. If this is hard to do, close your eyes and repeat a mantra, such as “I am worthy” or “I got this” repeatedly until it drowns out the negative self-talk. If you feel like you’re drowning and alone and can’t seem to break the cycle of negative self-talk, I highly recommend reaching out to a therapist. Sometimes we need a little help when rejection brings up past trauma. 

Understand that we become stronger by putting ourselves out there and breaking out of our comfort zone. This is something to be proud of! There are so many folks so afraid of rejection that they never take risks or venture outside their comfort zone. When we push our own boundaries, we learn so much about ourselves, about living and what we truly want in life. 

Think of the rejection as a perfect time to ask, “How can I do better?” Reach out to the recruiter, the hiring manager, the conference organizers or CFP board and ask for feedback. Reflect on those comments you receive and actively integrate them into your plan; make changes so that you can do better the next time. This may take several attempts and you may receive more rejections, but once you make it part of the process, it’s will get easier. 

Rejections present us with an opportunity to grow, learn, change and understand ourselves further. It can be incredibly painful at times, but incredible growth can occur when we keep trying and incorporate the advice and feedback. So give yourself a hug and some words of affirmation and appreciation—no one is perfect, and you put yourself out there and tried. Rejection is part of living a full life. Use this moment to learn from your experiences and become better. Next time you reach out of your comfort zone, you will be that much more prepared to rock it.  

Learn more about the award-winning tech changemaker, Chloé Messdaghi, at

Have a question? Want advice? Submit your anonymous question to Chloé: [email protected].