Bounce Back from Rejection with 5 Simple Words: The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received

Inside: How to bounce back from rejection in your career and relationships using a simple phrase to change your mindset.

I have a really divisive topic to talk about today, guys.


I know, I know. You aren’t supposed to talk about politics, religion, or cruises in polite company but sometimes you just need to break down the barriers and have an honest conversation to help move society forward.

But also this post is not really about cruises.

It’s about one of the best pieces of career and life advice on how to bounce back from rejection I’ve ever received.

how to bounce back from rejection

When We’re Cruising Together

I went on my first cruise in 1999 with my family. We had rented a bootleg copy of Titanic on VHS a few times and it was missing some pretty key plot points so going on a large boat sounded like a lot of fun.

In a shocking twist, it totally was fun. Probably one of my favorite life memories to date. The reason? I got to live an adolescent sitcom dream for four days. And of course, spend quality time with my family (love you guys!)

There was a Kid’s Club on the boat and it just so happened that the coolest 14-year-olds in North America also happened to be sailing the seas with their families that week. So Zach, Mandy, Taylor, Josh, Kristen, and I wandered around the boat together every night after dinner. We danced in the kids’ disco, hit the hot tub, and pretended that we were “the king of the world” about a dozen too many times.

It was freedom for us, low stress for our parents, and it was perfect.

Roll My Windows Down and Cruise

Fast forward 12 years and I was on my second cruise. This time with Glen on our honeymoon.

With scheduled stops around the Southern Caribbean, a balcony room, and comedy shows every night, we were cruising along in heaven. Our responsibilities for 10 days included 1) eat lots of shrimp 2) wear a bathing suit every day and 3) don’t worry about the time.

One of our stops was at Margaritaville for Pete’s sake. Like the real Margaritaville! It was relaxing with a capital R.

Glen wasn’t so sure he would love a cruise, not everyone does. But he totally got on board. No pun intended. But aww…. that was a cute pun.

Baby, you're a cruise ship. On cruises, crying, careers, and some of the best advice I've ever received.
Living my best life.

Cruising To the Advice

So we’re getting to the great advice part of this story.

In between cruise 1 and cruise 2, I went to college. During college, I had a work-study job as an assistant for one of the dorm Resident Directors, Chris.

Chris was one of my favorite people on the earth and probably one of the big reasons I got into higher education as a profession. He was (and is!) funny, kind, supportive, and a little ridiculous. For instance one of my roles as his assistant was to arrange his Garbage Pail Kids on his new bookshelf. That was a pretty fun day.

Another sample Resident Director Assistant task: Going to confiscate an illegal pet bunny with devil eyes from a dorm room….

Oh, and I also made a lot of bulletin boards.

Baby, You’re a Cruise Ship

One day I came into Chris’ office after a particularly heinous breakup.

As in my long-distance boyfriend broke up with me, I flew 1,000 miles to see him anyway, I got broken up with again in person, and then I flew back to Boston. Not my best look. I was a hot mess disaster.

Chris took one look and me and said this.

Baby, you’re a cruise ship.

If someone wants to join you for the party, they’ll get on the cruise and it will be great.

If someone doesn’t want to be on your awesome cruise, then you’re heading out to sea anyway. You’re onto the next port.

There will probably be margaritas there.”

The Career Coach Cruise

DANG… I WAS a cruise ship.

A fun, fantastic, all you can eat shrimp cruise ship… And not everyone likes cruises, or shrimp. But that was okay. That was in fact key to the whole metaphor.

If you are a cruise ship then it’s core to your identity to keep sailing on with your limbo contests, 24-hour frozen yogurt, and karaoke knowing that you are being completely yourself and having a great time. Even though someone else might equate your cruise to their personal seventh circle of hell and want to break up with you over AOL Instant Messenger.

This relates directly back to a job search too.

Now I’m all for interview preparation, and I’m not saying you should walk into an interview saying “Baby, I’m a cruise ship! Hop on or I’m sailing off to the company next door!” Please don’t do that.

But I am saying this is a good way to view job rejection. Because unless you are the one person in the world who gets every job you apply for (my brother), there is going to be rejection in your job search. Regardless of how flawless your resume is or how bacony your breakfast buffet is, some employers are not going to want you to dock.

Bounce Back from Rejection and Cruise On

So what do you do when someone doesn’t want to get on your cruise?

You learn from the rejection and you bounce back.

With this rejection, you’ve just been given the opportunity to reflect on how much you actually wanted to dock your cruise ship in Jamaica. Maybe Bermuda is a better fit for you in terms of company culture. Perhaps Bermuda will stretch you more professionally. Bermuda might REALLY like bacon.

Are we all on the same page?


Dust yourself off, grab a cocktail, and settle in for some jazz on the lido deck. It’s time to start cruising to Bermuda, baby.

Read More Career and Life Advice:

Figuring Out What “Having It All” Means To You

Embracing the One Piece Swimsuit: Dressing for the Job You Want

Don’t Wear Orange to Spin Class: And Other Lessons Learned from Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

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  1. Great advice, as always. And now I’m dying for some questionable shrimp cocktail by the bucket loads! Really, this is important to think about–when interviewing for that next position, or in my case soliciting literary agents. Interviewees need to remember that the relationship between employee/employer (or writer/agent) goes two ways–and it must be a good fit (or cruise) all the way around!

    1. I really want some shrimp now too. Someday we’ll get together and eat shrimp, Rebecca. 🙂 I definitely had writing on the brain when putting fingers to keyboard on this one. Not accepted for publication somewhere, cruise on!

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