Rejection is a beast professionals in all fields encounter. It is a beast that, when attacking, digs its claws deep within you to the bone. Sometimes that causes pain deep enough to ignite a desire to quit. And, when you desire success and work in creative fields, rejection may seem prevalent as ever; those rejections come more often than any acceptances. Despite rejection serving as a lingering dread over every endeavor in life, there is no one way to get through it.
I wish (as many others do) that handling rejection were as simple as “getting over it” and “moving on” from it. (That is the generalized, shallow way of trying to encourage someone we often hear from others.) Rejection causes a process of grief, in a sense, and everyone goes through their own process. I do not write this piece as a one-fits-all advice article; I can only tell my story and hope it may help someone else who struggles. With that, here is some advice from my own experiences that help me through (even when I still struggle today).
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1. Face the Negative Emotions That Come With Rejection
My biggest weakness, even after years of self-improvement, is accepting the negative emotions and not drowning in them. Don’t get me wrong here – I handle this a lot better than I may have all those years ago. However, I would be lying to you if I said I never still pushed away those feelings only for them to make me get lost in them later down the road. (I am a pro at avoidance thanks to my past, which is a hard thing to break after such a long time.)
When you avoid negative feelings and thoughts, they aren’t going to bother you at that very moment; that seems well. But I promise it will bite you in the butt later when you’re throwing a fit over a spilled cup of coffee. I still work on doing this daily for everyday life and still struggle/don’t do it well. The moments I do it well, though, I do notice the lack of emotional instability and easier transition back into my work. Give it a try for yourself and see if it helps you!
2. Try to Remember That Your Inspirations Faced Rejection, Too
This little piece of advice definitely helps keep me grounded. When you have artists or writers who serve as inspiration of sorts for you, they become a bit idolized in your mind. And sometimes you forget that they, too, received several rejections before they got their break. Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, Anne Rice – they were all rejected at some point in their careers, but they still have renown and impact in the world.
Acknowledging the people who inspired you went through the same tribulations does not mean success is a definite thing. But it lights the flame under your butt to keep going and strive for that success (however you, personally, measure it).
3. Remind Yourself That a “No” Isn’t the Worst Thing In the World
When someone rejects something you put your time, heart, and soul into, it shatters you to some degree. Honestly, it can feel like the worst thing in the world at that moment. The thing to keep in mind, however, is that a “no” is a minor issue within the many issues of your world. This isn’t said to downplay the impact it has on you; it’s going to hurt. But remembering that a rejection will not end your career or your life forever helps you move forward. Once you gain some mental fortitude regarding them, rejections serve a purpose as a tool to improve your work. (As the very cliche saying goes – you never know if you’ll get a “yes” until you try and hear a “no”.)
How do you go through the motions when you receive rejection? Let’s chit-chat in the comments below and share some tips!