Heartbreakers gonna break,
And the fakers gonna fake,
Baby I’m just gonna shake,
Shake it off, shake it off
– Taylor Swift
I have a very good reason to open with a quote from Taylor Swift, and it’s not just the fact that this song, “Shake it off,” is quite catchy (last we checked, it had over 664 million views on YouTube.)
Swift’s song reminds us to literally just dance “it” off, “it” embodying the negativity or stress from a particular moment or situation. Sometimes, in order to gain perspective, you have to do something that will help snap you back to reality and break a spell of negativity, like the one that comes with rejection.
Give it enough power and rejection can shape who we are, where we are going and what our decisions are. It’s scary stuff. So how do you shake off a success-swindler like rejection?
Try a TED talk. The inspirational seminars explore many topics, and in 20 minutes or less, you can watch or listen to one on their website or YouTube for free. The idea behind these talks is that in 20 minutes, you can change your attitude, life and “ultimately, the world,” (according to the TED mission statement).
Taking a bit of good advice on how to cool down, step outside, breathe deeply and gather our wits about us after a stressful situation never hurt anyone. So, without further ado, here is a playlist with five TED talks that might help you deal with rejection. And if these don’t help, just listen and dance to “Shake it off,” (even if all you can manage right now is desk-chair dancing).
5. Elizabeth Gilbert
Author of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia
She’s “that girl that wrote that book about that movie,” according to a lady who stopped her in the street. How do you live up to people’s expectations or perceptions after achieving great success?
After feeling she couldn’t live up to her successful-book-turned-into-successful-movie, Eat, Pray, Love Gilbert had to find another way to prove that her creativity could survive its own success. Should you give up and spare yourself the pain of failure? How can you find your way back from the haze of extreme success or failure?
Gilbert says that there’s a psychological connection between how we experience failure and success: one catapults you “abruptly into the blinding darkness of disappointment” and the other to the “equally blinding brightness of fame, recognition and praise.” However, one state is objectively seen by the world as bad and the other good, but our subconscious is confused and sees them as one and the same. The danger? Getting lost in that blindness.
To find your way back, Gilbert says to get back to work and “go home” to whatever that means to you: your family, your passion or devotion. “Your home is that something that you love more than you love yourself, something worthy — addictions and infatuations are not part of that.” For her, it meant going back to writing, not going back to her family’s farm house. The trick is that you have to identify the best worthiest thing that you love the most and “build your house on top of it and don’t budge from it.”
“And if someday, somehow, you get vaulted out of that home by either great failure or great success, then it’s your job is to fight your way back home the only way that has even been done: by putting your head down and performing with diligence, respect and reverence, with every devotion that love is calling from you next,” Gilbert adds.
4. Jack Andraka
Teenager credited with creating a pancreatic cancer test
How does someone that hasn’t even turned 15 help create an effective, non-invasive and cheap pancreatic cancer test? After a close family friend died from the disease, Jack Andraka set out to understand why pancreatic cancer is so difficult to diagnose and why it can only be detected once the disease is in its advanced stages. “Why are we so bad at detecting pancreatic cancer?” Andraka asks. The current test is more than 60 years old, very expensive ($800 per test) and misses 30 percent of all pancreatic cancer cases, Andraka says in his talk.
What he found is “as simple as making chocolate chip cookies” and he credits his success to his “undeterred teenage optimism.” He devised a plan and sent it to 200 professors at John Hopkins University and the Institutes of Health. He got 199 rejections, including one in which a professor took the time to discount each and every step Andraka made in his proposal.
However, “there was a silver lining”: he had received one somewhat positive reply, “I might be able to help you, kid,” said a professor. That was his hope and starting point. After a grueling interrogation from the professor and his students, he was granted time at a lab where he could create his sensor.
Working for seven months, he was finally able to build his product: a small paper sensor that costs three cents to make, but is 168 times faster and 400 hundred times more sensitive than the existing test for pancreatic cancer detection. It has close to 100 percent accuracy and can detect pancreatic cancer in the early stages. The sensor also works for detecting lung and ovarian cancers.
Andraka posits that by making a few changes, the sensor could be used to detect other diseases, such as heart disease, HIV, malaria, or really “anything,” he says.
“Through the internet, anything is possible. What you look like it doesn’t matter, it’s your ideas that count. For me, there is so much more to it, you could be changing the world. For a 15-year-old who didn’t even know what a pancreas was to find a way to detect pancreatic cancer … just imagine what you could do,” Andraka says.
The takeaway: Having “undeterred teenage optimism” and believing in what you’re working on can result in a great, great payoff.
If you want to read more about Andraka, go here.
3. Manal al-Sharif
A Saudi woman who dared to drive
What would you do if your family, friends, acquaintances — really, everyone you know — called you a traitor to your people, but the world outside your state or country praised your heroism? That’s what Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman, had to endure for driving in her home country of Saudi Arabia, but it didn’t deter her objective: to change the fact that women couldn’t drive, which she sees as being one step closer to gaining equality in an oppressive culture.