“Honey, I got another rejection!” I've actually yelled that more often than I care to admit, alerting my husband in the next room to another disappointing email that just came through.
As a writer, I've had to get used to my share of rejections, their impact a bit less cutting than in my early days. My agent is currently trying to sell two manuscripts – commercial fiction that my friends and family seem to love, but which are met with a lot less glee by those who actually have the power to make them into something. It sucks in any way, shape, and form, but I've learned the hard way that processing rejection intellectually makes it sting a lot less than if I let my emotions take over. Here's why.
We all get rejected. Perhaps you've been passed over for a work promotion, find out via Instagram that you weren't invited to the happy hour to celebrate so-and-so's birthday, or the love of your life thought otherwise and decided to search for love elsewhere. No matter how it's delivered, rejection is brutal and one of the most cruel fabrics of life. Sure, it makes us stronger and more resilient, but there's no cute inspirational saying that can make you feel better when you've been told you're not good enough. Sure, you're better off. Yes, perhaps another work opportunity is on its way. Yeah, maybe he wasn't as perfect as you thought he was. All explanations and words of support sound the same way in the throws of rejection. Blah, blah, blah.
Here's the thing. We feel that way because we usually let our emotions dictate how rejection makes us feel. Insecure. Less than. Not worthy. That's complete nonsense, but we fall victim to it if we let our emotional sensors take over the wheel and drive us straight to Sadness Town. The truth is, my manuscripts just don't fit the specific profile of particular publishers who are looking for a different type of book to fill their library. It doesn't mean that I'm a bad writer. The work promotion, although great to have, just might not be in the cards right now. There's always things we don't know going into work decisions, so why choose to believe that the decision was based on some inadequacy of yours? Continue to work hard and the promotion will be just as sweet next time. That love of your life who walked away? If he walked away, he wasn't the love of your life. It's that simple; the love of your life would walk through fire to be with you and anyone who wouldn't is better sent down that long dusty road.
Rejection, as much as it sucks, is part of life. If I don't learn how to process life's disappointments in a healthy way, I'll never be able to help my kids do the same. So, the next time I get an email from a publisher that starts out, “Thanks for the opportunity, but I'll have to pass,” I'll let myself feel some initial disappointment and then move on. I will then holler to my husband in the other room and he'll respond in his typical way, “Sorry, honey, that sucks.” I have to remind myself that rejection comes with a life worth living; avoiding it means missing out on the good stuff.
Keeping it Real: When the rejection flag does fly, don't feel bad about losing yourself in a box of thin mints and soaking in a tub of self-pity....for a bit. There's nothing wrong with being sad about disappointment, but don't let it last more than a day or so. When all else fails, fire up some of your favorite tunes and take your frustrations out on the pavement, the Vitamin D and rockin' beats helpful for getting rid of the blahs. If you can't seem to shake the blues, talk to someone – a friend, family member, or therapist – to make sure you have the support you need. Never forget – you rock.