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

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 recently.

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 together in the first place, but a major one is that I know myself. I’m prone to anxiety, so I always try to optimize my life in such a way to minimize anxiety. I also had the foresight to know that if something like this ever happens, 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 on the 18th of June, 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 application got rejected.”

The follow-up question has nearly always been the same….


But “Why?” is a useless question especially when you know you won’t be able to find the answer.

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 that moment of turmoil, having something to do kept my mind off things.

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

“What can we do about it?”

For me, it was executing the items on the list.

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

You just do.

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Published inLife LessonsPersonal Development