Rejection. It’s one of the scariest things in the world.
Death is preferable.
But does it have to be this awful?
It’s only scary because we attach it to our ego and tell ourselves stories about what it means. Stories which are rarely true.
For example, you apply for a job, but don’t get offered it.
A response could be “My C.V is no good”, “I don’t interview well”, “I don’t have enough qualifications”, “the recruitment agent didn’t like me” etc. etc.
So you ask for feedback and get told the position was offered to an internal candidate. I know I have had this experience before. The rejection really has very little to do with you or your abilities. They were just going through the motions.
Rejection is rarely simply a case of “not good enough”. Far more often, it’s about a miss-match. I’ve interviewed people for jobs in the past and I know that the candidates can all do the job, but I was looking for someone to fit in. If their personality wasn’t right, that wasn’t a positive or negative value judgement of them as a human, it was more that someone else was better suited to the environment.
So we need to stop taking rejection so personally and start seeing it as an opportunity to grow.
Below is a great Ted Talk about a guy who was so terrified of rejection he decided to go out and actively seek it for 100 days. And he wrote about it. And ended up on the Ted stage. It’s a funny watch.
This is what inspired this week’s topic which was to put myself ‘out there’ in areas I want to progress in but where a fear of rejection, or not being good enough has led me to procrastinate.
The first time I submitted a design idea to a crochet website I was really excited at the prospect of getting someone to actually send me the yarn to make something and then showcasing it. But I was also pretty scared that they would laugh in my face.
I submitted two designs, following a design call.
They didn’t laugh in my face but they rejected both.
I was so disheartened. I felt embarrassed about my ideas and questioned whether anything I did was any good and wondered how I would ever come close to being as good as any of the amazing designers out there. These people don’t know me, why should they give me a chance right?
This feeling lasted for a few days.
But I went away and decided that I needed to just up my game. I looked at what my ideas were, what the brief was, how I could improve my efforts. Though I had no feedback, I had to be blunt with myself – my initial submissions could have been better suited to the publication and better executed.
So I learned. The next submission got accepted. It was the Lean on Me Cushion, which is still a favourite.
I’m still pretty new to the crochet design and publishing business. I don’t have much of a network yet and that will take time to grow. I need to be patient and thick skinned as I’m likely going to get many more rejections. Learning and improving is how I have to respond in order to not get disheartened. It’s hard but it’s worth it.
What about those occasions where you get rejected because you’re just not right?
Here’s an example. I could apply for the X-Factor a million times but I’m never going to get through. I believe that anyone can be good at anything, but I’m not prepared to put the work into singing lessons – and believe you me, that would be a lot of work – so I will always get rejected. I’m okay with that – singing badly and passionately in the car is enough for me.
In cases like this, rejection is actually a gift. It can be a push in a different direction, which isn’t a negative thing. Resilience is so important here. Just because one business idea / route / date / job application / project doesn’t go well it doesn’t necessarily mean none of them ever will! If it’s important to you, look at what went wrong, suck it up, change your approach and start over. There’s always a way!
I get that this is easier said than done but almost all famous authors talk about how many rejections they got on their journey. And it is a necessary part of the journey. Imagine how fragile we would be if we only ever heard Yes. That one No would ruin us!
So in terms of my path, I have continued to submit projects both to magazines and also articles to on line publications. At the time of writing I am awaiting responses. If none come then I will regroup and try again.
Yes people might not know me, I might not know who to contact or what to say, but that’s an excuse. I have to view it as a motivator to try harder, find new ways in, be more creative, not just give up!
In the words of Steve Martin…