The single most important thing in the building of my character and perspective has been rejection. Success is visible and that’s what’s celebrated, but for every time something has worked in my favor, there were at least 3 times I was told no. I read a blog from a publisher who shared that women resubmit work far less than men. When we hear no we are more likely to internalize it, hide or give up on our dreams altogether. We then construct alternative dreams more accessible to us, or fill preassigned gender roles as a means of blending in; the normative route is perfect camouflage. But what to do then with those leftover aspirations? Learning how to process rejection, learning how to navigate criticism, learning that every no, whether from a job, or life path, or man, or friend, or city, is a unique lesson in building, has empowered me. Teaching our nieces and daughters how to have a relationship with “no” is what’ll shift the patriarchy. Rejection does not make me any less of a woman. It is sharpening me. Making us better.