Like demonic twins from a Stephen King novel, Rejection and Self-doubt go hand-in-hand. And seeing as I’ve babbled about self-doubt, I thought it only fair to give rejection her time in the spotlight.
Any writer/author will tell you that rejection is part of the journey into traditional publishing; it’s inevitable that you’re going to receive rejections. Some nice, some not so nice, and some aren’t even real rejections at all… they’re simply long, unanswered silences...
…watch those tumbleweeds blow.
But rejection isn’t exclusive to writers, it’s something that happens to everyone, daily. And it can lead to all kinds of craptastic feelings and responses. But I’m here to tell you, writers and nonwriters alike: just as we need love, we need rejection too.
Imagine an alternative reality where rejection was an abstract concept… go on, it’s not that hard…
Think of those kids, the ones whose response to ‘no’ is to whine, kick and projectile-vomit pea-soup until a parental ‘yes’ is produced—don’t get me wrong, when I’m tired or off-par my kids can sniff out weakness and grind me down with the efficiency of an industrial sander. But that’s just parenting, right? We all have our off days where our mini-dictators get the better of us. What would happen if those pea-puking kids grew up in our alternative universe, the one that’s devoid of rejection?
That’s right, the world would be populated with ‘narcissistic turds’ with about as much social grace and compassion as seagull shit. So the next time you’re rejected, know that you’re playing your part in humankind’s continuation of empathy, compassion and growth!
However, there are a number of issues I think need addressing.
If rejection hits us hard, it’s usually because we’ve placed an intense want or desire on something: a date, or job, or even finding out that the chocolate bar you left in the fridge has been eaten… okay, chocolate theft by your husband isn’t rejection; but still, it’s disappointing.
The amount of time, energy and promise we place in our desire are equally reflected in the emotions we experience from the rejection—say, you really, really want to be accepted on the next NASA space mission to the moon. Everything you do, you do for the astronaut cause. You live and breathe space stuff (technical talk, I know). You train for years, study and learn until you’re known as ‘Brian the Brain’; then, when it comes to the final crunch, you’re rejected. Your face doesn’t fit, you’re too tall, too short, you have a dicky heart—it doesn’t matter what the reason is. You’re rejected from becoming the next Neil Armstrong—or that other guy, who no one remembers the name of. That’s going to suck. Big time.
In the process of pursuing your crazy dream to become a spaceman, you met amazing people, travelled to exotic locations, learned incredible new skills (hey, being able to subject yourself to ridiculous g-forces has got to come in handy somewhere); in essence, you went on an adventure. An adventure you wouldn’t have experienced without putting yourself out there, and going for it.
Being rejected isn’t the end of the story. It’s just part of it.
What would you rather do: live a sterile, mundane life without risk to avoid rejection, or try your hardest to achieve those goals, regardless of the outcome?
If you said ‘achieve your goals’, then that is the correct answer. Well done! Brownie points awarded.
There’ll always be an element of luck, no matter what you want to achieve, who you want to date, where you want to be in life. But that’s okay. Certainty doesn’t offer much in the way of inspiration or motivation. Life would be tedious and boring if we knew we were going to get what we wanted. The element of risk is exciting. Invigorating. Just remember: every time you get rejected, you get to learn something new… like, what mascara doesn’t run when you cry for two hours straight because your tutor ripped your work apart with the same kind of compassion that a cannibal shows his/her next meal. I’m not bitter. Honestly!
Rejection is a perception that’s associated with a lack of worthiness. And worthiness is… self-defined; it isn’t dictated by acceptance, it’s created, by you, in your head. So, give your head a shake and change your perception.
I might not make it as a traditionally published author any time soon. But that’s okay. Sure, I’ll feel the sting if I’m rejected—maybe spend a few days rocking back and forth in my locked bathroom—but it’s all experience I can learn by. My worth hasn’t altered because of it; in fact, I would say my worth has grown because of it—each and every time I get rejected it gives me one more string to my bow of learned shit.
If all else fails, there is another option. And no, it doesn’t include hiring a hitman to take out your competition or the person who rejected you. I thought I’d gather up alternative substitutes for the term ‘rejection’ to try and give a less dejecting spin on it. Words are powerful things, and some words make you feel rather shitty just hearing them; rejection, I think, is one such word. However, there were no substitutes that I could find. Nothing. Not a sausage to describe rejection that didn’t suck.
So, in the interest of helpfulness, I made up some of my own… feel free to use them as you wish.
So if you don’t get that dream job as a naked artist, a fish inspector or playground tester, and your world feels like it’s falling apart… try replacing ‘rejection’ for one of my suggested alternatives.
“The agent I sent my manuscript to womble-bombled it.”
“I got burty-bipped for primary dancer.”
“The guy I asked out flabber-jabbered me.”
See! Rejection doesn’t sound so bad when you put it like that, does it? Okay, I might not be the most inventive of word curators, but what’s stopping you making your own stuff up? Words, like music, can and should be played with—by everyone.
Go out there, live, get flabber-jabbered, learn from it, and enjoy yourself! At the end of the day, when the final curtain is called and it’s your time to wave goodbye, what would you regret more: putting yourself out there to experience the brilliance of life, along with all its rejections, or living like a hermit in a cave built with the bitter bricks of ‘what ifs’?