How to embrace rejection

How to embrace rejection

by Mira Brancu, PhD

How to embrace rejection

This is the closest I got to the stage the TEDxCaryWomen event. I loved it. It was amazing. And I was there because I was rejected as a speaker. Yup! And I’m not ashamed of that. In fact, I owe much of my career success to many rejections.

At this point, I don’t even flinch from rejection. I embrace it as a message to learn something so I can try again or try something else better prepared next time.

For 2020, one of my business goals is to increase my speaking engagements. This is not just an important goal for my company, but also for me as I had avoided it in 2019. The fact that I’m even making it a goal is amazing considering how far I’ve come from 15 years ago when I was really struggling with a significant public speaking phobia and shyness (which I know would come as a shock to most people).

One of my dearest friends, Lynn Scherer, who is an expert in the fundraising and development world (among many other talents) planted a seed: “Have you thought of doing a TED talk? I want to see you doing that and there are many local opportunities.” So I started exploring.

When you keep your eyes open for specific opportunities, they almost always start appearing. And that’s what happened when I started being more open to considering this idea as a possibility.

Michelle Proctor, who is a Principal Business Operations Manager in risk management for SAS, a computer software company headquartered locally in Cary, NC planted the next seed. Michelle leads and serves in many capacities supporting women leaders in her community and beyond (including serving as an advisor for my own company) and she became involved in bringing TEDx to the Cary community through SAS.

She posted an announcement on LinkedIn and I reached out expressing interest in learning more about applying. She was excited to hear I was interested and encouraged me to apply and to talk with the curator, Stephanie Sarazin to learn more about what they were looking for. Stephanie was amazingly supportive, enthusiastic, and thoughtful with her feedback about how I could hone my message.

I quickly bought a ticket and invited my good friend and colleague, Kate Scott to join me. I figured if I was accepted to speak, my husband could take my seat to watch me, and if not, I would enjoy a lovely event with Kate. This also forced me to not back out.

A month later, I received the most supportive rejection letter I have ever received. I knew deep down I wasn’t really ready for this huge leap and the letter confirmed that. But it also confirmed that I had a good message worthy of refining and trying again. It was nice to even be considered!

I went to this TEDx event wearing exactly what I had planned to wear if I had been accepted to speak. And if anyone asked, I proudly shared that I was rejected as a speaker and was excited to be there instead as a supporter and to learn.

This is actually an important practice of mine. I intentionally and actively share with others, especially those I coach and mentor, when things do not work out the way I expect – the rejections, embarrassing “failures”, moments of doubt and fear. Too often we see only the final outcome rather than the many challenges people have overcome to get to that point. We don’t learn from outcomes. We learn from the process.

I enjoyed the event just as much as if I had been accepted to speak. In fact, I suspect I enjoyed it even more and gained so much as an attendee. I had the opportunity to hear some amazing speakers and learn more about the craft through them. I reconnected with colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while, networked, and met new colleagues who all had a similar interest in empowering women leaders.

You can choose to see a rejection as an event in which someone else is closing a door and shutting you out; or you can see it as a way to be open to new doors previously not seen. In this situation, as in many others in my life, the difference is how you go about pursuing any opportunity.

Putting it together, here are five tips to embracing rejection:

Don’t let fear of rejection hold you back. Think of it as a calculated risk you are taking to open more doors for yourself. The outcome is way less important than the process.

Listen to, accept, and reach out to people who are eager to support you and ask for help, guidance, or feedback. Success almost always takes a village.

Use any rejection as an opportunity to learn. Sometimes, immediately after a rejection, people close themselves off to engaging any further in that activity – perhaps for fear of additional emotional pain, embarrassment, or feeling unwanted. These feelings often come from assumptions we tell ourselves, not from what the other party is trying to tell us. Let yourself challenge those assumptions and accept the rejection as feedback to make some tweaks to the approach or outcome.

Be proud that you tried.

Remember that you were considered. If you don’t ever try and take risks, you will undoubtedly face fewer rejections, but you will also not be considered as often for amazing new opportunities.

Each time you choose to avoid trying something simply because of fear of rejection, you close the door yourself instead of letting someone else consider you first.

Here’s proof:

When you don’t try, your likelihood of getting an opportunity is pretty close to 0.

In the past 2 months, I went full-throttle with no fear of rejection. I submitted 18 proposals (including this TEDx talk) and here’s what happened:

8 of those submitted talks were approved

2 were rejected (TEDx was by far my biggest reach)

2 invited me to complete a full application for further consideration

6 have not responded yet (you never know, but that’s not a rejection yet!)

AND AN UNEXPECTED BONUS! After speaking at a few events, posting and sharing with others who may be interested, and in general letting people know about my interest in speaking more, I got 5 additional invitations to speak.

That means if I didn’t try, the number would have been close to 0, but by trying and being open to rejection, I have received 13 opportunities to speak.

That’s a 72% return on investment for trying!





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As previously seen on Wit & Delight

Editor’s Note: As we come to a close on January, a month where we explored the idea of becoming a recovering perfectionist, we’re sharing an article from the archives that was written in the same spirit. This post, penned by Megan McCarty in 2019, is a guidebook to coming to terms with the big, bad metaphorical wolf that is rejection. We hope you find insights within her words. And we hope you have a good Sunday too.

What’s the worst they can say? No?

This phrase ping-pongs around my head a lot when I’m pretending to be brave. I’ve thought of it every time I’m applying for a new job or asking a favor of a friend or sending a pitch to a publication.

There are a few life lessons I keep learning over and over. 1. You have to ask for what you want. 2. Sometimes you won’t get it. 3. Other times you will get it, and it’ll make all the other embarrassing, time-consuming , or heartbreaking times when you didn’t worth it.

As a writer, I’m constantly baring my bleeding heart. That pitch that I thought would be the Next Big Idea? Well, my editor didn’t. That other pitch I thought was going to truly change my career? Nope, it went nowhere. Countless versions of “unfortunately” emails trickle into my inbox, and even then I feel lucky that I received a response at all. (Turns out editors are just as good at ghosting as men I’ve dated.) But after reading this New York Times piece, I’ve decided to embrace rejection.

It’s empowering, they say! It’s gritty! Everyone loves the word gritty!

So I set a goal. By my 31st birthday in April, I wanted to receive 50 rejections, 50 “unfortunatelys.” It’s a grown-up version of the “shoot for the moon” theory. Even if I miss, I thought, I’d land amongst some stars, right?

Turns out failing is fun for exactly nobody, but it’s a necessary lesson to, well, lessen the blow of rejection. Like it or (more likely) not, rejection will happen again and probably again and then definitely again for the rest of your living days.

Turns out failing is fun for exactly nobody, but it’s a necessary lesson to, well, lessen the blow of rejection. Like it or (more likely) not, rejection will happen again and probably again and then definitely again for the rest of your living days. It’s now almost spring and so far I’ve written for a new dream publication, am in cahoots with a hotel management company I’ve been wanting to collaborate with, and yes, that editor I adore would like to have coffee this week.

I’m also failing at a greater rate than ever before. I interviewed for a potential dream job and wrapped my head around the idea of moving to New York before I got—whaddya know—rejected. I was also yanked around by a man who liked me, then didn’t, then sorta did, then didn’t again, as if he were playing Love You, Love You Not with flower petals and my feelings. Rejected. That magazine I told everyone I was going to start writing for had their budget slashed. I’m racking up rejections every day, and though sometimes I want to crawl under the covers, the rewards that accompany a yes are just too good to give it up.

There’s a particular type of vulnerability to getting rejected. It’s personal, or so it seems. I don’t like your idea, I’m not attracted to you, you’re not smart enough for this job. You, you, you, you, you. Though, like most things in life, usually, it’s not about you. In my case, maybe my pitches tanked because that editor already had a similar story in the pipeline or, hell, I don’t know, hadn’t eaten lunch yet.

The only way to get better at rejection? Do it, then do it again. It’s exposure therapy. The more comfortable you feel being rejected, the less you’ll fear it. The more you dive into the deep end, the less you’ll worry about cracking your head open.

The only way to get better at rejection? Do it, then do it again. It’s exposure therapy. The more comfortable you feel being rejected, the less you’ll fear it.

All this rejection talk reminds me of an interview I saw with singer/witch/magical human being Maggie Rogers lately. She’s known for heart-piercing lyrics, which apparently has been a lifelong defense mechanism for her. In middle school, she said, she’d tell all of the boys she liked that she had crushes on them immediately. “Because I felt like if he just knows, then no one can hurt me. If I tell the entire world my deepest, darkest secrets, then I’m bulletproof.”

Bulletproof. I like that. Because so often, for every “unfortunately” email, there’s often a “try again!” Every door that closes, well, you know what happens. So I’ll keep at it, winning some, losing some more. Do the same, will you?

Exposure Therapy for Rejection:

  • Remind yourself why you do this. Because you were born to be a you name it, because you want to find love, because _____ means _____ to you. Fill in the blanks.
  • Take a break. It’s exhausting and disheartening to hear no so often. So take care of yourself and trust you’ll get back into the swing of vulnerable things soon enough.
  • Make a mental note of your Top People. Editors who make your sentences sing, your personal cheerleader friends, that college professor who believed in you more than you did. Appreciate them and lean on them.
  • Read this Elizabeth Gilbert passage often. “Send your work off to editors and agents as much as possible, show it to your neighbors, plaster it on the walls of the bus stops – just don’t sit on your work and suffocate it. At least try. And when the powers-that-be send you back your manuscript (and they will), take a deep breath and try again. I often hear people say, ‘I’m not good enough yet to be published.’ That’s quite possible. Probable, even. All I’m saying is: Let someone else decide that. Magazines, editors, agents – they all employ young people making $22,000 a year whose job it is to read through piles of manuscripts and send you back letters telling you that you aren’t good enough yet: LET THEM DO IT. Don’t pre-reject yourself. That’s their job, not yours. Your job is only to write your heart out, and let destiny take care of the rest.”

How to embrace rejection

Megan is a writer, editor, etc.-er who muses about life, design and travel for Domino, Lonny, Hunker and more. Her life rules include, but are not limited to: zipper when merging, tip in cash and contribute to your IRA. Be a pal and subscribe to her newsletter Night Vision or follow her on Instagram.

How to embrace rejection

“Wisdom is merely the movement from fighting life to embracing it.”

There were many things I wasn’t prepared for when it came to baby raising: the constant self-doubt, the vocal opinions of others, teething that never ended. But the real shock was when my ten-month-old daughter rejected me.

It is human nature to avoid rejection. Nothing is more painful than trying your best or giving your heart and being told it’s not good enough or unwanted. In my case, I went beyond avoiding rejection—I denied the possibility of its existence.

My childhood experiences led me to believe that rejection was the most painful outcome of any situation.

My biological father won custody when my parents divorced and told me that my mother didn’t love me. At the same time, his alcoholism and own painful childhood didn’t allow him to love me unconditionally.

My fear of rejection was so profound that fleeing the mere possibility defined every aspect of my life.

In my twenties I changed friends, jobs, and cities with the frequency of oil changes. I lived in eleven apartments in six cities on both coasts, I had three different careers, and I spent most of the decade single.

If I perceived that someone didn’t reciprocate my feelings, romantically or platonically, I would walk away. If work required that I move beyond my comfort zone or take risks, I would quit. I was out spoken and passionate, but unwilling to be vulnerable to the possibility of rejection.

My fear kept me small. I lived a mediocre life. Avoiding rejection started to suffocate me.

In my thirties, I found the courage to love and to declare myself a writer—two prospects that ensure constant rejection. It was worth it. I was confident that I was healed, until my daughter rejected me.

My sister-in-law comes to our house and watches my daughter two or three times a week; I remain in my home office but am unavailable.

Recently, when my sister-in-law tried to hand me my daughter she began to cry and didn’t stop until her aunt took her back. I was devastated.

She was doing to me what I had promised to never do to her. I expected this from a teenager, not my ten-month-old daughter. Not the infant that I had delivered without a single drug, nursed, made sure never had diaper rash, prepared all her food, smiled, loved, and cuddled.

This may seem like a small and insignificant event, but it opened a deep wound of pain and sorrow. The rejection felt like walking through high school in my underwear, having my boss humiliate me in front of the entire office staff, and being audited by the IRS—simultaneously. It was horrible.

I immediately wanted to withdrawal and cut myself off from the pain. Only this time, I couldn’t; a rejection had finally happened with the one person I couldn’t walk away from—my daughter.

Here is what I learned:

1. Feel the pain.

Do you feel rejected? Do nothing that distracts from the pain. Accept what you feel, exactly as it is.

In moments that I can’t physically escape, I turn to food. The day I felt rejected by my daughter I ate half a bag of chocolate chips and shifted the pain of my heart to my belly. After the bellyache was gone I was left with the pain (and the guilt of overeating).

For you the temptation may be something else: social media, sex, drugs, exercise, work—anything that moves the ache from your heart to somewhere else. Any one of these things can be healthy and enjoyable, but not at the moment you feel rejected.

In this moment, allow yourself to feel the pain of rejection.

2. Know that rejection is not about your worth.

My terror of rejection stemmed from my inability to accept how it made me feel. I would immediately judge my inadequacy and enter into despair. When it happened with my daughter my first thought was that she didn’t love me and I was a failure as a mother.

Feeling the pain does not mean that you affirm your worst self-assessments.

When you feel rejected, do you do what I do and tell yourself that you weren’t enough: kind, smart, pretty, funny (enough)? Do you review every potential error you made along the way and wonder what you should have done differently? Stop.

You will never be beautiful enough, smart enough, kind enough, funny enough, to avoid rejection, because rejection is inevitable. Everyone gets rejected from time to time. And even if you believe you did something that led to the rejection, the issue would be that specific action, not your intrinsic worth.

Rejection isn’t about who you are as a person. There is nothing harder to believe and nothing more important.

3. Challenge your interpretation.

If you allow yourself to feel pain and don’t spiral into self-criticism, you will be more open to alternative possibilities: maybe it wasn’t even rejection.

Most of the time what we perceive as rejection is something entirely else. Many people in my life have felt rejected by me, when in fact I was protecting myself from their potential rejection. My daughter’s pediatrician assures me that she was not rejecting me.

You might have been rejected for that job because they already have someone with a similar background, and they were looking for someone with new skills to add to the team.

You might have been rejected romantically because that person simply wasn’t ready for a serious, committed relationship.

We can never know what exactly was happening in the moment that we felt rejected; all we can know for sure is that nothing ever means that we are unworthy. And with that knowledge we can choose not to be defined by any one interpretation.

If we feel our emotions (pain, sadness, anger, whatever it may be) and don’t get stuck in negative self-assessments, then we can be open to other interpretations. It becomes less terrifying to take risks.

Embracing rejection gives us the freedom to be vulnerable and moves us to be gentler with ourselves. It increases our potential to love—others and ourselves.

If we push ourselves to feel, not judge, and challenge our interpretations the potential is great that our sense of self worth will grow and we will have the courage to risk what never seemed possible before.

This may mean that we will have even more rejection to embrace.

When you can begin to be more specific with your emotions, rejection is so much easier to handle.

How to embrace rejection

Rejection hurts and everyone faces rejection. Especially entrepreneurs. How you deal with rejection is one key factor that determines your resiliency. More than intelligence, skill, or work ethic, resilience is the number one predictor of success because the act of not giving up is the main factor that determines if you will accomplish your goals. Yet, rejection and the fear of rejection are both at the root of why people do not keep pursuing their desired objections and stay resilient.

Now, there is a science-backed method on how to overcome rejection.

A couple years ago, researchers from Northeastern University and George Mason University published their findings from a study that sheds new light on a better way to deal with rejection. Their research is even more important today.

The results of this study, “Unpacking Emotion Differentiation: Transforming Unpleasant Experience by Perceiving Distinctions in Negativity,” go against traditional “overcoming rejection” advice you will hear these days. Most people will tell you the best response to rejection is to have thick skin, ignore it, and keep going. But these scientists say you should do exactly the opposite.

Instead of ignoring your emotions or feelings and moving on, you should embrace the negative emotions, feel the pain, and take a moment to analyze your feelings.

Once you embrace the rejection, then you can fully embrace your emotions and begin to control them to finally emotionally disconnect. If you don’t, they will always be there, waiting for their chance to return.

The researchers state that the first step to embracing your emotions is to label them. This helps you differentiate your emotions. In the study, they call this ability “emotional granularity.” The more specific you are with your labels, the more control you gain.

Instead of stating you are feeling “bad” or “angry” try focusing on the reason and the exact emotion. One way is to use more specific words, like using the labels of “frustrated”, “trapped”, or “confused.” If it is hard to label your emotions, don’t worry. The authors state that: “emotion differentiation is a skill.” Skills can be learned. Thank goodness.

Learning this is not easy, doing it is even harder. Yet, it can bring dramatic change to your business. When you are building a new business in a high-stress environment often you are faced with different types of rejections that can bring out many emotions, yet you put them all in the same bucket, even though the triggers and outcomes are very different.

One trick I found to make this work is to first label the type of rejection, so I can then begin to label the actual emotion. I ask myself: is the rejection from a client or investor? Is the rejection from a colleague or vendor? Am I being rejected or is my idea? Is it my product or the message? By labeling the source, I can step back and define my specific emotions. Once I started to understand myself, then I can choose my response. With this new strategy, all of my business results improved. I can always choose to be resilient. So can you.

To start learning how to label your emotions better, or to become more emotionally granular, here is a quick review of various names for many emotions. It will help you realize you know more names of emotions than you think while providing you with many new resources as well.

Since you always believe the stories you tell yourself, embracing who we are is the first step to becoming who we want to be. Usually, this involves overcoming rejection.

Once you start to define and label your emotions, you can begin to acknowledge the truth behind every situation.

Labels are powerful. Once you label something you own it.

When your emotions are under your own control, you can then choose how to act and define every experience, even when faced with rejection.

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Handling rejection is an inevitable part of life we all experience in our relationships, our careers, and our hobbies. The trick is to learn how to embrace it. If you commit to having an open mind, you can turn any rejection into a positive opportunity for growth. Here are five tips for handling rejection and viewing these experiences in an exciting new light:

Decide Your Own Worth from the Start

Whether you’re about to start looking for a new job, using an online dating site, or embarking on a new hobby, make sure you love yourself first. Start by giving yourself credit for having the courage to go for it, and remember that you’re the one who decides your own worth. Others might judge you, but it’s your own view of yourself that matters most in determining your level of success and happiness.

Remember Value Is Subjective

If you or something you created isn’t accepted, loved, or embraced the first time around, it doesn’t mean you’re not valuable, talented, beautiful, or lovable. For example, if you didn’t get hired after your first three interviews on your job hunt, take some time to sit down with a pen and paper, and write out the things you learned to do, or not to do, after those interviews. You should feel encouraged by the fact that you’ve gained valuable knowledge about how you can improve before you get back to it.

Be Open to Feedback

Allowing others to tell you what they do or don’t like about you or your work can feel incredibly intimidating. However, being open to feedback actually dictates whether you grow and improve. Wouldn’t you rather go through a bit of discomfort if it meant you could count on getting stronger? Criticism, whether constructive or not, helps us expand our awareness of how other people see us, and gives us the confidence to reshape the way we approach the world and offer our talents.

Anticipate Setbacks and Prepare Your Responses

Knowing that rejection is inevitable is half the battle, but the other half is planning a classy and constructive response in advance. Be ready for a few dates and relationships to fail, and then make a game plan for what you’ll do if you get turned down. For example, make a deal with your best friend to embark on an impromptu beach getaway trip if either of you suffers from heartbreak. And while you wait to get an interview at your dream job, go ahead and apply for several other jobs as backups so you feel less defeated if you don’t get the gig.

Allow Yourself to Be Scared

Fear is typically a sign that you’re out of your comfort zone and about to do something you care about. Remember, it’s normal to feel scared before you ask someone out, ask for a raise, audition for a team, or compete to win an award. Try looking at your fear as a helpful friend that is pushing you to grow. Feel your fear and go for it anyway. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll be proud of yourself for trying and will feel more relaxed the next time around.

Every rejection offers a chance to grow from your mistakes or differences in opinion. If you learn to be open to it, it will set you up to be the strongest, most confident, and most polished version of yourself you can offer to the world. By being friends with rejection, the world will quickly become your oyster.

How to embrace rejection

We can all agree that rejection sucks. it can even hurt, burn, sting and be embarrassing. So why would people put themselves in a position that could lead to rejection? They must be crazy. I mean, why apply for that promotion when there are way more talented applicants? Why approach that cute guy or girl in the bar when there are clearly better looking people around?

Because you somehow convinced yourself that you won’t get that job, and you can’t get that person. You need to snap out of that self-destructive mindset. How you perceive yourself is not necessarily how people view you. Those are your personal insecurities. Have you ever had someone like you that you would have never expected to like you? Have you ever won something, or got that promotion or job that you didn’t expect? Exactly. Good things have happened to you without you expecting it, and don’t think that it can’t happen again. The fear of rejection is hard to shake, but I’ve come to realize that rejection is actually kind of awesome, and I will tell you why.

1. You Grow Thick Skin
As I established earlier, rejection hurts. Let’s face the cold hard facts, you’re not going to get everything you want all of the time. Such is life, it’s a numbers game. You only need a few big wins, and the more times you give yourself the opportunity to be successful the closer you get to that big win. Developing thick skin is great because it gives you the resilience to keep pushing when things don’t go your way. You are less likely to throw in the towel or lose hope. Don’t let rejection get you down. Instead, take it as a learning experience and as fuel for your next endeavor.

2. You Become Fearless
If you can master the art of being fearless, you can do anything. Fear is what holds the majority of people back from pursuing their true passions. Social pressure and the fear of the unknown totally cripple people. When deciding whether or not to pursue something, ask yourself this: What’s the worst that can happen? Then decide if you are willing to deal with the consequences. If the consequences are bearable, (and usually they are) then do it. We tend to think our first world problems are the end of the world, but when compared to mass killings and world hunger, it’s really not a big deal. Potential embarrassment or having to pinch a few pennies shouldn’t be enough to keep you from pursuing what you want. Mastering fear doesn’t come in big leaps, but in small steps.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” — Lao-tzu

It’s time to take that step and not let fear run your life. Fear is almost like a disease of the mind, it can be so crippling that at times we convince ourselves of things that are not true. For instance, you may think “Oh this person couldn’t possibly find me attractive,” or “I’m not capable enough to do this job, I’ll just leave it for someone who is.” At the end of the day, life is too short to be a wimp.

3. You Are More Secure With Yourself
Being secure with yourself is the absolute best feeling in the world. You don’t need validation from anyone or anything. You trust your gut and your decisions. There are some situations where you just need to act now and think later. Decide what you want, go for it and take that leap of faith.

“Jump first and grow your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury

4. You Learn How To Not Take Things Personally
This goes back to life being a numbers game. Don’t overthink everything. Not every rejection is about you or what you could have done better. Have you ever considered that the problem is with them and not you? Maybe you never stood a fair chance in that interview, and they decided to hire a family member instead. Perhaps that person rejected you because they are in a complicated relationship. Don’t take things so personally or stress yourself out trying to analyze situations that you have no control over.

5. You Learn How To Move On
As the Jay Z song goes: on to the next one. If an opportunity does not go your way, take a step back to process the situation, and then take a few moments to feel your feelings. It’s ok to be upset or frustrated in the moment, but after that let it go. There is no sense in dwelling on negative situations. Is it going to change it? No. Is it going to make you feel better? No. Then why add the additional stress to your life?

Life is too short to fear rejection. The future isn’t promised, so worrying about it won’t do you any good. There’s nothing like the feeling of being courageous enough to go after what you want. It’s a rewarding feeling to at least try something even if the situation doesn’t play out as you expected.

Now, I challenge you to not let fear hold you back from whatever it is that you want. Be bold, take a deep breath and go out and do it!

Next steps: Do yourself a favor and subscribe to my blog by clicking here. I send out insanely useful information such as business ideas and life hacks every Wednesday, absolutely free!

Rejection is a word that is often feared, whether it be a teenager putting their heart on the line, or a graduate looking for their first role out of university. Rejection is something that everyone is likely to experience at one stage of their life or another, so it is important to understand the effects it can have, and what the most productive ways to deal with it. After all the measure of character is not how much a person suffers rejection, but how they bounce back from the experience and learn from it.

How rejection affects the brain

Rejection affects the brain in a similar way to physical pain, this is likely why we fear rejection as much as we avoid putting ourselves in harms way. The neurological pathways that tell our brain where we have hurt ourselves are also used for the feeling of rejection, and studies have even shown that simple pain killers can ease the feeling of angst. Research has also been carried out to investigate why this may be, it is likely to stem from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, in which living in packs and interdependence were important for survival in the harsh environments. This neurological pathway is thought to be an evolutionary development to act as an early warning system to those at risk of rejection. However, mankind is now likely to act stronger without this reaction to rejection, dealing with rejection can even be learned as a skill with some even training themselves with coping strategies. There are many stories out there of how rejection has been a key part to the story of very successful people; Michael Jordan cut from his High School team, J.K. Rowling told Harry Potter would never sell, Dwayne Johnson was rejected by the NFL and then cut from the Calgary Stampeders, You are likely to find a lot of these stories on inspirational Instagram posts dotted about. The main take away from these stories aren’t that famous people get rejected too, but that they had the mental strength to overcome the feeling of rejection and put their energy into something productive.

Fear of rejection worse than the experience itself

Speaking from personal experience during a job search, the fear of rejection can sometimes be more crippling than the actual rejection itself. During my first real job search I had an interview at a company I believed was the only path to my dream career. This piled pressure onto myself to the point where I feared the interview through fear of messing it up and being rejected as a result. The interview came around and I can comfortably say it went about as badly as it could have. I was informed of my rejection the next day and it came as almost a relief as I had put so much importance on this company that when I was told I wouldn’t work there is felt like a weight had been lifted. Fast forward 3 months and I was offered a role much better suited to my abilities and in a location that has led to me looking back at my rejection with a positive mindset as I attribute the reflection from the experience as a key factor in the success of getting the role I’m now working in.

How to embrace rejectionImportance of self-reflection / awareness

A good level of self-awareness from a candidate is every recruiters dream, there is very little more frustrating than receiving an application to a role from a candidate that is underqualified and cannot be put forward for the position. Self-awareness is born from self-reflection which can be a very productive exercise following a rejection. There are many models to follow for reflection but possibly the most effective for improving self-awareness is the JOHARI window developed by Joseph Luften & Harry Ingham in 1955 as a tool to help people to better communicate with others. The model is designed for people to look inwardly to themselves as well as asking others how they view them. This can be useful when asking for feedback on an interview that went badly as it may be the case that your personality is seen by the interviewer differently to your perception. This exercise can reveal aspects of yourself that are difficult to recognise without asking others, having a clearer picture of how others view you is likely to allow you to position yourself in the jobs market much more effectively. Candidates that are self-aware simplify the recruitment process as they are comfortable talking about their skills and come across as a lot more credible to hiring managers as a result. Whilst “fake it ‘til you make it” can be a useful motto in some circumstances, it is important to be sure of your position in the market and never set yourself up to over-promise & under-deliver.

How to bounce back

Our recommended strategy to cope with rejection is inspired by the lyrical stylings of Chumbawumba;

“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down”

These are words to live by if you ask us, it can be tempting to allow a rejection to consume you and shy away from future opportunities as a result, whilst rejection is a painful experience to go through it can be even more damaging to allow a rejection to define you. Imagine where Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling or even Dwayne Johnson would be had they allowed their rejections to take control. Rejection should be an opportunity for growth, to acknowledge where you fell short and implement a plan of action to prevent being in a similar position ever again, after all…

“It is better to live a life with rejection, than a life with regret”

Rejection happens. It’s not something that you outgrow or you become too big for. Rejection is a part of life. Let’s talk about how to handle rejection so that it doesn’t turn into shame, embarrassment, or discourage you from moving forward. Instead, I want to help you embrace rejection.

Are You a Reject?

Rejection, for a long time, was something that I was very ashamed to admit that I had experienced. In my mind, no one was being rejected in life, except for me. Does that sound familiar? But as I grew older, I began to notice a pattern in how rejection was impacting the trajectory of my life. I went from focusing on small things like being rejected from social organizations or not being excepted by groups of people I want to be friends with to focusing on how rejection was really shaping my life. I begin to realize that being rejected for a job position wasn’t a bad thing. Or being rejected by that guy wasn’t a bad thing. Or not being excepted into certain programs was not a horrible thing. I began to realize that after the rejection happened, something better always followed it. Now, this happens all the time, but most of the times we are too deep in our emotions and our shame and our embarrassment and our “How dare they?” or “Who do they think they are?” that we don’t see what’s happening in our life. We are deep in the waters of misery from rejection that we don’t see that there is a plan being orchestrated in our favor.

Embrace Rejection

Let’s free yourself from feeling like rejection is a negative thing. Free yourself from being embarrassed to say “I tried and I didn’t make it.” Let’s become ok with saying “I didn’t get it.” Because the truth is, in order to make shots you have to actually take shots and when you do so you are probably going to miss some of those shots. That is OK! It happens, even to the greatest of us. I don’t want you to let those misses, that rejection, those “no’s”, stop you from trying to do the amazing things that you want to do.

Rejection is Not Your Enemy

Often times we want things in that may not be the best for us. When we do not receive those things we are hurt and disappointed not realizing that the rejection was for our good. The next time you are rejected from being a part of a certain group, remember that maybe this group wouldn’t be good for you. The next time you rejected by some guy or girl remember that maybe they wouldn’t be healthy for you. The next time you are rejected from a job or position remember that rejection is not the enemy and maybe this is blocking you from something you are not going to like. I have found that many times rejection has saved me from a lot of misery. If I would’ve gotten what I asked for my life, I would not have been in a good place. So instead of rebuking rejection, embrace rejection. Remember rejection’s purpose and ask for it so that you can stay on the right path. Sometimes we don’t know what’s best for us and that rejection may just be a gift from God.

Rejection Now Doesn’t Mean Rejection Forever.

There are times where the answer is no… for now. Maybe later that door will open. If you are being rejected at the moment I don’t want you to get discouraged and believe that this is how it’s always going to be. Sometimes a no is a no. Sometimes a no means not now. But the only way you’ll find out is if you keep going and keep trying to be great. If you get a no and you stop trying, you’ll never know where at will lead to. You’ll never know where you’re supposed to go afterwards. You’ll never know what that rejection was setting you up for. So, don’t get discouraged and don’t quit just because you are being rejected because no now doesn’t mean that it will be a no always.

Rejection is a Part of Greatness

You can’t climb to the top of Mount Everest and never stumble. I just don’t think it’s gonna happen that way. If you listen to the stories of amazing people throughout history, you’ll see that they were rejected over and over again. It happens. If you are being rejected, if you are being told no, remember that you are in great company. Every business owner, every fortune 500 company, every superstar in some sense has had a door or two or three slammed in their face.

Rejection build resiliency. It builds character. It helps your ability to be flexible. There are so many things that you learn from being rejected that if you were always told yes you would never learn these things.

In a nutshell, I am thankful for rejection and I hope that you soon can view rejection in the same way. There’s no need to be ashamed. There’s no need to be embarrassed. There’s no need to feel hurt and down about being rejected. I want you to start brushing yourself off. Continue to look towards your future and know that something better and brighter must be ahead just waiting for you.

3 Fears Every Creative Person Faces + How to Embrace them

“Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to start a YouTube channel. It’s been something I had wanted to do for a while. I shared the idea with my partner. He loved it! Then he asked what I want to talk about on my channel but I did not want to share it with him. Although he’s naturally supportive, I did not want to tell him because my fears and anxieties made me doubt my expertise and lived experience. I didn’t want him to judge me.

After resisting, I finally blurted it out and said that my channel will be about creativity and my creative journey. I want to encourage + help people unlock their creativity so they can live the life they’ve dreamed of.

How to embrace rejection

Although I was scared, it felt really good to say it out loud!

It felt more real — despite my fears starting to creep in.

Fear is an unpleasant emotion. It caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.

How to embrace rejection

I was a really creative kid. I played instruments, was an athlete, won student body campaigns, organize events, etc, but I never found them to be dangerous, threatening, or caused me damaging pain.

So that’s why I want to talk to you about why it’s important to be kind to your fears. I also want to share how to embrace the fears of judgment, rejection, and vulnerability. Although I don’t claim to have all of the answers, I do know what worked for me and I’m confident my tips can help you too.

How to embrace rejection

Embracing the Fear of Rejection

I’ve learned to embrace rejection by practicing mindfulness meditation. A resource I find helpful is the Daily Meditation Podcast hosted by Mary Meckley. Mary guides you through a 7-Day meditation series to help you find clarity. If you are interested, I recommend listening to this series . She peacefully guides you through a visualization meditation to help you recognize and manage your fears.

Our fears can stem from many things and my fear of rejection almost paralyzed me when I started my creative journey. I lacked confidence in my creative skills.

I was doing something I had never done before. I even told l myself that it wasn’t perfect yet and almost did the same thing when it came to starting my channel.

I wanted to have the perfect content, the perfect video with the perfect lighting, the perfect branding and the perfect apartment. All I was doing was delaying my start date.

I was using perfection as an excuse to never start something that scares me. You need to feel the fear and do it anyway because all you are doing is sabotaging your greatness.

How to embrace rejection

Embracing the Fear of Failure

You can embrace the fear of failure by defining what success looks like to you. Before I approach a project — art, photography, design, or creative problem-solving — I set my intentions. I write down my expectations for the project and the overall experience I want to have. This practice allows me to let go and create. Overthinking paralyzes us and gets in the way of your greatness. Take your power back by setting your intentions for every project you accept.

How to embrace rejection

Embracing the Fear of Being Vulnerable

Creativity and vulnerability go hand in hand.

In her famous Ted Talk, Berene Brown said, “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” I(overlay screenshot of the podcast)

It’s hard to unlock your creativity if you’re not willing to be vulnerable. That’s why we care about how many likes and followers we have. Creativity is personal and what you create means something to you.

How to embrace rejection

If you’re suffering from the fear of vulnerability, journaling can help. It doesn’t have to be formal or even a diary. All you do is grab something to write with and check-in with yourself. Write down how you are feeling mentally and physically.

Describe the sensations in your body and what emotions you are feeling. If you know you are going to be in a situation where you’re expected to be vulnerable, prepare ahead so you’re not caught off guard.

You cannot escape your fears so you should learn to embrace them and be kind to yourself. It’s all part of the growth and creative process. In order to unlock your creativity, you have to be kind to your fears. Make them your friend because we cannot get rid of them. We can learn about them, understand them, and treat them with love and kindness.

How to embrace rejection

Chances are, you read the title of this post and huffed, “I hate rejection! Rejection, I will dance upon your grave!”

The good news is that you’ll never stop experiencing rejection, so you won’t have to be shining up your dancing shoes anytime soon.

Wait — did I say the good news?

I did. In my career as a magazine writer, book author, content marketer, blogger, and copywriter, I’ve been rejected well over 500 times. Yes, I counted.

But instead of seeing “no-thank-yous” as a sign that I should just give up and get a real job, I see them as a tool for boosting my career success.

Here are five reasons to consider rejection your bestest friend …

#1. Rejection teaches you how to stop being rejected

In the late 90s, I was trying without success to break into the national women’s magazines. Every pitch was met with rejection.

Then, one day, I received an email from an editor at Woman’s Day. She said she liked my query — in fact, she wanted my permission to showcase it at a writers’ conference as a pitch that was almost-but-not-quite there — but that I didn’t do enough research on the topic. Why don’t I expand on the idea and send it to her again?

So I did a few interviews, added some quotes to my pitch, included a few examples of what I would include in the article, and turned it in.

Behold! My first women’s magazine assignment.

And I went on to write for Woman’s Day again, and also sold more than a dozen ideas to Family Circle (and became their highest-paid writer) using my new, well-researched query approach.

Of course, not all rejections will be full of friendly tips from prospects, but you can learn even from boilerplate “No thanks” responses.

For example, if you’re getting a lot of these impersonal rejections, that’s a sign you’re doing something wrong and need to reconsider your approach. Something about your letter of introduction, pitch, offer, or samples may be lacking.

#2. Rejection allows you into an exclusive, world class club

Ever hear of The 4-Hour Workweek — you know, that New York Times bestseller that created a worldwide movement to work less and earn more? Author Tim Ferriss was rebuffed 26 times before he found a publisher willing to take him on.

Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was turned down 30 times. King was so frustrated he chucked his manuscript into the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to submit it just one more time.

JK Rowling suffered countless rejections before scoring a hit with the Harry Potter series. She’s now one of the richest people in Britain.

Take heart that the rich and famous have been where you are right now, fielding no-thank-yous left and right. When you get rejected, you have something in common with the most successful writers out there.

#3. Rejection demolishes your competition

I cannot even tell you how many wannabe writers I hear from who gave up in the face of rejection.

That makes me sad, but it offers an advantage for you: The more writers out there who let “no’s” stop them, the more opportunity there will be for you to land those content writing gigs.

In other words: Fewer writers = less competition. Yay, right?

#4. Rejection helps you cut through the crap

Think of rejection as clearing the path towards your best successes.

All those prospects who are turning down your content writing offers — they’re just obstacles you need to get past before you finally reach the prospects who will hire you.

Every rejection brings you that much closer to an acceptance. Think of those famous failures we just talked about. What if Tim Ferriss had stopped at rebuff #26, or Stephen King had given up for real at #30?

They were at their final rejections, people!

Who knows which will be the final rejection on your current marketing campaign? If you’re learning from rejection and tweaking your copy and offer in response, chances are you’re getting pretty close.

#5. Rejection brings you better clients

My take on rejection is that if someone turns me down, that means we wouldn’t be a good fit.

You may be thinking — especially if you’re a newish writer — that any client would be a good client, but believe me (I know from experience) that there is such a thing as a bad client, and that you don’t want one.

So the ones who turn you down? They’re sparing you from slogging through an assignment for a client that isn’t a match for you in work style, writing style, pay, or PITA (that’s Pain In The A**) level.

Even better: When you get a rejection from one prospect, that leaves room for better ones to enter your life. (Why yes, I do believe in all that woo-woo energy stuff!)

Over to you …

Why do you love (or hate) rejection? Are you on the verge of giving up?

Can you see how rejection can be used as an ally in your work, instead of merely a hard bump in the road?

In this post, our guest blogger tells us how he learned to embrace rejections.

Just as I sat down to write this, I received a rejection from a prestigious prize. Before I’d finished this paragraph, another rejection from the same contest popped up.

By my reckoning that makes six rejections for the week. And it’s only Tuesday. Now I’m not one to brag, but you’ll struggle to find a UK or US litmag that hasn’t rejected me. I’d say I average about one a day – every day of the year.

Rejections sting, of course they do. We all want to be published, we all want the validation of acceptance and positive feedback. We all want to think our work wows and that we are good enough.

But to be a writer is to learn to accept rejections as a perennial occurrence. To learn – if not to love them – then at least to ignore, and perhaps even embrace rejections.

How I Learned To Embrace Rejections

Here’s how I’ve learnt to deal with rejections.

If you are serious about writing, a big part of your job is putting stuff out there and hoping for a bite. Often you won’t get that bite, which of course makes it all the more wonderful when you do.

But this is the reality for many people in many fields. The salesperson loses many deals before on the way to hitting their target. The fisher casts many a line that yields nothing. The teachers’ efforts fall on many a deaf ear.

The Writing Life

Trying, failing, and trying again isn’t a unique agony of the writer. For most of us, in fact, it’s just working life.

Writing is work. And part of that work is putting yourself out there. The more you send work to editors and publications, the more you enter contests and pitch ideas, the more you will be rejected.

Then again, if you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never get anywhere – so no chance of publication, rave reviews, kudos and all the good stuff.

I’d argue that the more you get rejections, the more successful you are. True, if you submit your work a lot, you will get rejected a lot – but you will also be increasing your chances of an acceptance.

The Word Itself

The word ‘rejection’ doesn’t help much either. Nor perhaps does ‘acceptance’. It’s hard at first not to see rejection of your work as rejection of you. If your words aren’t accepted then perhaps you aren’t acceptable either.

Of course, a rejection will always sting. But after the 1000 th , your skin gets to be much thicker, and the disappointment is much easier to brush off or move past.

Understanding that you are not your work helps too. In my 25-year career as a journalist, copywriter and content creator – working sometimes for tyrannical editors and unreasonable clients – I learned not to take feedback to heart. I didn’t always agree with the comments, but I kept my own counsel. You have to choose which battles to fight.

Reasons For Rejections

There are many reasons why your work doesn’t get accepted.

  1. Perhaps it’s too similar to other things the editors are running.
  2. Perhaps they just don’t have the space for all the good stuff.
  3. Perhaps – whisper it – you’re not as familiar with the taste and style of the publication as you ought to be.
  4. Another reason, of course, is that the work isn’t good enough.

Of course, judgements are subjective and partly irrational, but if you have submitted a story to 40 venues and got nowhere, it’s probably high time (and then some) to shelve it. You don’t have to reject it yourself – just put it aside for a while and work on something else. Eventually you may be inspired to return to it and rework it. Understanding the difference between work that isn’t a good fit and work that isn’t good enough is the lifetime job of a serious writer.

Rejections are also a courtesy. Writers often complain about work that has been stuck in submission queues for months, sometimes years. And in my experience many publishers and agents don’t trouble to reply at all. Personally, if you’re not going to take my work, I’d rather know asap so I can think about what else to do with it.

Different Rejections

Nor are all rejections the same. A bespoke rejection that offers some encouragement or positive feedback, especially from a prestigious title that you’ve always dreamed of appearing in, can be a real boost. But don’t do what I do and immediately fire off something else to them.

Take a while to think about why they liked what you did, and what else you have to offer in similar vein. You could also ask if they’d be prepared to look at a new version – again, not something to be rushed.

I think it’d be hard for any writer to say that they have learned to actually love rejections. But you can learn to embrace rejections as a sign that you’re doing the work of a writer – the work you always wanted to be doing – and you’re on your way.

Some writers aim for 100 rejections a year, as there’s bound to be a few acceptances in among all those submissions too. I know of one writer who adds a pretty bead for each rejection to a necklace they’re going to wear when their book is published. Or you could put a coin in a jar for each rejection and save up for something nice – a book or a bottle of wine perhaps.

‘Rejections are fuel,’ as the writer Jason Jackson says. Or, as Sylvia Plath put it: ‘I love my rejection slips. They show I try.’

The Last Word

I hope this post helps you to learn how to embrace rejections.

How to embrace rejectionby Dan Brotzel. Dan is the author of Hotel du Jack, a collection of short stories, co-author of a comic novel-in-emails about an eccentric writers’ group Work in Progress (Unbound), and a solo novel, The Wolf in the Woods.

More Guest Posts

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  3. Music To Listen To While You Write
  4. 7 Reasons To Focus On A Writing Product
  5. 7 Pearls Of Writing Wisdom From Susan Sontag
  6. 5 Tips For Marketing Your Book In Multiple Languages
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Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

To get clients and become a successful business developer, you have to put yourself out there. As human beings, we don’t usually like having to put ourselves out there, because that means being vulnerable, which we try to avoid as much as possible since we don’t want to face rejection. Rejection is no fun! We prefer certainty and control, not vulnerability.

But you know that as a business developer, you can’t hide. If you do, you may be the best-kept secret in town, and what good will being a secret do you when it comes to getting all the business you want for your practice? Next time you catch yourself putting off reaching out to a prospective client or following up on an email because you are worried about getting a “no,” use these steps to build up your resilience to rejection:

Step 1: Accept rejection as a necessary part of the process

Believe it or not, the first step is as simple as just accepting that you may get rejected and that it may (or more likely will) feel uncomfortable. By accepting that it will happen (and probably a lot) in business development, you lessen some of the fear of it, because you don’t push against it as hard.

Step 2: Welcome and embrace rejection

In business development, you want to welcome the “no’s.” Your business development journey will be so much smoother and less painful when you learn not to take rejection personally, and when you build grit and resilience to it over time. Yes, it is a lot easier said than done, because no one likes the feeling of rejection, but with practice, you can do it.

To accomplish it, engage in the process of periodic desensitization. In psychology, desensitization is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative, aversive or positive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. The more you put yourself in situations where you will be rejected, the less impact it will have on you over time. You will become less and less sensitive to it, and as a result, no longer feel the urge to avoid it.

This is exactly what Jia Jiang, the author of Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, did. In his book, Jia documents his process to overcome his aversion to rejection by embarking on a 100-day journey, during which he willfully sought out rejection daily. One of his key discoveries was the realization that he can build up his rejection muscle to steel himself against the negative emotional impacts of rejection and become more fearless. As a result, he found that he was no longer derailed by a single setback.

In business development, rejection is not only something to expect but to welcome. Welcome rejection? This may seem odd, but this is a key “inner game” mindset shift. One reason is that the more “no’s” you get and learn from, that means you’re that much closer to a “yes.” So next time you get a “no,” get excited about it!

Secondly, it’s important to realize that any “no’s” you may get for your legal services takes nothing away from who you are as a human being. It’s never a “no” to you as a person. In fact, most of the time, it’s not even about you. That’s one of the biggest lessons you can learn. People take things too personally in general, but most of the time it is about the other person and what’s going on in their own life or business, or their own limiting beliefs or discomfort.

An unsuccessful sale or ability to secure a meeting, or someone’s refusal to make an introduction for you, is only that. It’s not you failing as a person. Your worth as a human being is not dependent on whether you have success with a deal or opportunity.

Step 3: Appreciate and learn from rejection

If you can analyze and learn from your failures, then they become the most important learning lessons on your path towards success. In fact, failure is what paves the way to success. When you adopt a mindset that involves you learning to fail to ultimately “win” instead of taking your failures personally, then you will be on a path to faster successes.

Someone in a situation that requires courage, skill or tenacity (as opposed to someone sitting on the sidelines and watching), has been referred to by Theodore Roosevelt as “the man in the arena”:

It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs,
who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst,
if he fails,
at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

—Theodore Roosevelt, excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910

So the bottom line is: When you get knocked down, get back up. As many times as you get rejected, keep following up, coming up with new strategies, trying new approaches. Most lawyers stop. Most quit when they don’t get fast results. Failure is necessary. Failure leads to success. The more rejections you get, the more successes you will ultimately have. A life without challenge is a life without growth so embrace the challenge. Embrace the rejection.

About the Author

How to embrace rejectionMarla Grant is an attorney, certified coach and co-founder of 20/20 Leadership Group, an international coaching and training firm that helps attorneys enhance leadership and business development skills. Contact Marla at [email protected]

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

‘A necessary fact of life’: How to embrace rejection

How to embrace rejection

Last Updated June 30, 2020

Related Posts

For college students, it sometimes feels like we’re constantly applying, submitting and interviewing. Whether it’s an internship, a publication opportunity, a fraternity or a minimum wage job scooping ice cream, many different opportunities require us to “put ourselves out there” in some form. Unavoidably, some of those applications and interviews are going to end in rejection. But if getting rejected happens so often, and to everybody, why should we feel so bad when it happens?

This week, I received five (five!) separate and unique rejection letters from different online publications. Initially, each one stung. It’s hard not to think about the lost opportunity and the hard work I put in. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that rejection can actually be a very positive thing.

Being rejected is a sign that you’re being active, not passive. You’re putting yourself out there and going after what you want, and that is the path toward achieving your goals. No one can be accepted or hired or published every time, but the more you persevere, the greater the chance that something will work out. Being scared of rejection is a valid feeling, but fear should not prevent you from chasing your goals.

Often, rejection can in fact be helpful because it may signal something you need to work on. I appreciate it when editors give me feedback on my submissions because it gives me specific things I can improve. If you receive a rejection, you may want to consider asking for feedback. People won’t always be able to give it to you, but it’s worth a shot.

Rather than letting rejection break you down, think about how it can make you stronger. Encountering rejection in one aspect of life can prepare you to face it in another aspect of life. Because I know what it’s like to be rejected from a publication, or for an acting role, I’m beginning to understand that it’s something I can survive. I’m less nervous to ask that cute guy out for coffee because I know I’ll be OK if he says no. Rejection prepares you to stray from your comfort zone and take chances without viewing every “no” as a failure.

Whether we like it or not, rejection is a necessary fact of life. But we can redefine our reaction to it. We can choose to embrace rejection and let it lift us up, instead of sinking us down.

About this blog

The Daily Clog (Cal+Blog) accumulates various tidbits about Berkeley and college life. We focus on the UC campus, the city of Berkeley and Berkeley’s online community. We give our two cents on all the goings-on.


Hazel Edwards, the renowned author of the bestselling children’s book There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake has never been one to shy away from a novel idea.

Although she admits to being typecast as ‘The Hippo Lady’ after writing the popular children’s book, this never stopped her from exploring other interesting ideas which were often progressive and groundbreaking, especially with her recent work that explores sexuality and gender.

“I’ve always been interested in the concept: Coping successfully with being different,” she tells Artshub.

It’s not unusual for some of her projects to take years to get off the ground, but she’s stuck with them the entire way through, even if it’s taken years.

Keep Persisting

Hijabi Girl, a book Edwards co-wrote with Ozge Alkan, was finally published in 2016 after 41 rejections from traditional publishers. Alkan, a highly qualified librarian at an Islamic school, initially approached Edwards to write the book about a feisty Muslim girl who wears a hijab so that one of Alkan’s students could wear traditional dress for Book Week instead of Little Red Riding Hood, who everyone was over at that point.

“When Hijabi Girl was being pitched it was difficult because people were equating the hijab with Islam and terrorism,” Edwards says.

This was also around the same time the Lindt Café siege occurred in Sydney, however the book was successfully published and has now been turned into a touring puppet show.

Similarly, when Edwards co-wrote f2m: the boy within, the first YA novel with a trans character who had transitioned, there was criticism, especially as Edwards herself was not transgender, although she did co-write the book with a transgender friend.

She says getting these projects off the ground is linked to sheer determination. “I am persistent and I would say that is a quality that all writers need,” she admits.

Use rejection to your advantage

Journalist Lisa McLean co-hosts The Prince and the Pervert – a podcast about pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, his conspirers and enablers. When the podcast launched, there weren’t many other Australian podcasts tackling this theme and the hosts soon realised they were onto something. Despite initial criticism of the podcast, the producers’ motivation to keep creating it was fuelled by their desire to bring justice to Epstein’s victims by telling their stories.

Although The Prince and the Pervert has now received over 500,000 listens, the hosts initially endured criticism and were told by one individual that no-one would be interested in what they had to say. But they’ve now learnt to use criticism as a way to continue improving the show.

“We use our extremely critical reviews as content. We don’t shy away from it,” McLean says, ’but we’ve improved our audio and paid someone to critique our podcast.”

How to embrace rejection

A review for The Prince and the Pervert which the producers use to improve their content.

Like McLean, acclaimed painter and sculptor Lindy Lee, whose survey exhibition Moon in a Dew Drop is currently showing at MCA, and who has had an illustrious career spanning 40 years, agrees that negative reviews can be helpful in evaluating your work, although she suggests being selective with what you do take on board.

“When you get a bad review or people form all sorts of ideas and opinions about you, it’s really painful,” Lee remarks. ‘In that instance you have to learn resilience and maturity to look at whatever the criticism is and ask: ‘How much of it in my heart is true and how much can I take on board to better understand my work?’”

This enlightened way of thinking is prevalent in both Lee’s artwork – her practice explores her Chinese ancestry through Taoism and Ch’an (Zen Buddhism) – and the way she seems to approach life generally.

Through talking with her, it becomes apparent that sometimes ‘success’ in art or creativity in general is simply making a decision to embrace authenticity as opposed to a merely financial outcome.

At times Lee says she’s taken a “left turn” with her artwork in accordance with what her soul needed her to do. When such a situation occurs she will ruminate. “I have to sit myself down and say: ‘OK Lindy, it feels that you need to do this and if you do this you have to be OK with the outcome.’ And that outcome may be pure rejection but you have to do it.

“I accept it because it’s actually not worth my while to keep repeating what will become a formula,” she says.

She adds: “You have to be true to yourself, that’s all. Life is not worth living unless you’re willing to be true to yourself.”

How to embrace rejection
Sculptor and painter Lindy Lee says being yourself is one of the most important things about being an artist. Photo: Ken Leanfore.

Collaborate and upskill

While writing Hijabi Girl, f2m:the boy within and Celebrant Sleuth (a mystery series about an asexual romantic) Edwards has embraced working with collaborators. She suggests it’s not only important for gaining emotional support while working on a project which is different but also a way to learn valuable skills.

“Work with a co-writer who has complimentary but different skills, and with whom you can have an equal share of things,” she declares. “I continue to learn from younger people who have better multimedia skills than me. I am a formatting tragic,” she jokes.

Upskilling is another way for creatives to have success and broaden the projects they are working on, particularly if you’re waiting for your unconventional or novel idea to get picked up or if that idea hasn’t turned out. Success can be achieved by learning new skills and working on a variety of projects.

“The other way of coping with rejection is to upskill,” Edwards says. “And that’s what a lot of sensible people, who are creatives, have been doing during the pandemic.”

For Lee, taking the time to become more adept at grant writing has been valuable.

“With every rejection in terms of a funding body, I’ve had to learn to upskill my writing,” Lee explains. “Even if you have the most illustrious career, the skill of being able to describe your work and your proposition is unbelievably important.”

Lee suggested some final advice for those facing rejection and criticism in regards to their project or idea.

“None of this is personal. Never take it personally because if you do, you’re actually acquiring approval and approval is lovely but it’s not the basis of one’s practice.”

This article was originally published by our friends at ArtsHub Australia.

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One of many approaches to react to the challenges faced by urban freight can be the introduction of electric cargo bikes as an environmentally friendly mode of transport for courier deliveries. Since this market consists of highly decentralized decision-making structures, it is important to characterize the individuals involved and their perceptions in order to estimate market potentials and identify barriers to market uptake. To achieve this goal, we use information from a nationwide survey to draw a picture of the messengers involved as well as to model a binary decision of innovation rejection. The results indicate a group of people close to the general population but with certain particularities regarding gender, education and work style. Their attitudes towards technology are rather positive but their actual adoption of electric cargo bikes shows a much more heterogeneous pattern based on socio-demographics, job circumstances and personal characteristics.

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Don’t let your fears stop you from contributing to open source projects.

How to embrace rejection

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I worked professionally as a software developer for nine years before I committed any code to open source. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to participate. Rather, my self-doubt and fear of rejection stopped me from contributing.

In 2006, I downloaded the Bazaar version control system and a bunch of Ubuntu code, made changes locally, then abandoned my project. Later, around 2009, Hibernate creator Gavin King gave a talk to our local Java User Group. I was interested in giving back to the project because we used it for work, but after downloading Hibernate’s source and looking at the bug repository, I found myself intimidated once again. I was worried the response to my code submission would fall along the lines of, “Who let this woman with the craptastic code ever think she should submit code to us. ” Then I imagined a banned list shooting across the open source community IRC channels with my name on it.

Then one day, while I was working on a framework hosted by GitHub, I came across the simplest of errors in someone’s documentation: The word “but” should have been typed “bug.” I have no idea why, but I forked the project, fixed the markdown, and submitted a pull request. To my surprise, the maintainer accepted it.

After that, I ran into a discrepancy between versions of NGrok and GitHub’s documentation. I submitted another pull request, and this time the maintainers came back with questions. I thought, “Oh no, confrontation!” The old docs worked for them, they said, so I explained that the version of NGrok available for download needed an extra command-line parameter. Once that was verified, I had another submission accepted.

I was excited to continue submitting pull requests and support open source projects. until I was rejected. It was a simple error on my part: I left my formatter on in my IDE when I saved code, which changed all the formatting. I fixed the glaring error in my pull request and got another acceptance.

My fear of rejection stopped me from contributing to open source code for many years. But once I recognized the benefits outweigh the disappointment of code rejection, I lost a lot of my fear. I’m so glad I did.

Three reasons to embrace rejection

  1. You’ll learn something: It’s the repository maintainer’s job to ensure a clean codebase and repository standards. Code that doesn’t fix the problem or is a Band-Aid fix should be rejected, but in such a way that the submitter can learn from the mistakes. The same goes for the repository standards. Although a rejection mainly benefits the repository, it is still an excellent learning experience for you. Think of it as a place for you to grow in ways like understanding how the repository works, learning different tools than you are used to, or discovering a different approach to solving a problem.
  2. You’ll toughen up: Rejection will help you by hardening your shell. Take a step back and reflect on the reason the code was rejected. If it was due to a dumb mistake, recognize errors happen, then flex your muscle of self-forgiveness and fix the problem. Was it rejected due to not understanding the codebase or code standards? Make the changes and remember them for future submissions. Grow and learn with each rejection and harden that shell.
  3. You’ll become more persuasive: Another benefit of rejection is learning to turn a no into a yes. One of my favorite stories is about Clayton Anderson, who wanted to become an astronaut more than anything else in life. He was rejected 15 times from NASA before he was finally accepted, and then he was one of the few chosen to go to space. Persistently work towards the solution and then work on turning their no into a yes.

Flip your fear

As a quote often attributed to Mark Twain says, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” When you recognize that the fear of rejection is holding you back, you can flip the fear. Tell yourself you will do something that risks getting you rejected X number of times per month and push the button. As far as I know, there is no secret “banned contributor list” in open source, and everyone I’ve worked with has been very supportive.

You may not have noticed it, but throughout this article, I’ve been careful to specify that it’s your code being rejected, because I want to you realize something: You are not being rejected, only the change you’re requesting.

In my case, even though I was earning my living writing code, I was so afraid of being rejected by an anonymous community that I was reluctant to do something for them for free. Recognize this fear of rejection, dismiss it, and submit that pull request anyway!

Ann Addicks will be giving a workshop titled Commit to Open Source at We RISE Women in Tech Conference, June 23-24 in Atlanta.

Reject Modernity, and embrace Tradition. The folly of Parliament so far has been to allow mobile phones into the House. This is utterly absurd! They should instead be engaged in the goings on of the House in which they reside.

MPs represent around 70,000 people each, and they should be engaged in the debate as a point of principle. Using distractions like mobile phones in the House shows a lack of appreciation for their constituencies or the importance of their job.

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Picture it: you’ve laid out the candles, carefully curated the playlist, made dinner (from scratch!) and are eagerly awaiting that knock on the door. The moment’s finally here and your sweetheart walks through. But, instead of a warm smile, you’re met with a look of distraction — or neigh — is that flickering irritation? Said sweetheart lowers their eyes, avoids yours, and lays it out: it just isn’t working. It’s not you. It’s them. And there it is: you’ve been dumped. Your cardiovascular cavity effectively obliterated into a gajillion tiny shards. Said person — now no longer a sweetheart, but a heartless monster — has since departed, and you’re left to pick up the pieces.

Every one of us has gone through some version of this scenario at some point in our lives (even, in some cases, multiple times). Rejection is always a jagged little pill to swallow and it seldom gets any easier with time. So what do you do, other than desperately try to make yourself fall out of love with someone that probably wasn’t right for you anyway?

In our latest episode of Sex Sessions , sexual health and consent educator Samantha Bitty explores love and rejection through the lens of economics. And in that lesson, she explores the way our “resources” impact our individual ability to connect and process rejection.

How to embrace rejection

Stages of grief: What does rejection look and feel like?

The first step is to understand what’s happening. Research tells us that many of the symptoms people experience post-breakup mimic symptoms of drug withdrawal . This is, in part, because love triggers the same neural pathways that addictive substances do. Not giving your brain that rush of feel-good hormones causes us to feel rightfully down. Then, when there’s an added element of rejection thrown in the breakup mix, it can even feel physically painful .

Similar to the stages of grieving, the flurry of emotions that follow is another common experience. One study outlined seven specifically: hurt, jealousy, loneliness, shame, guilt, social anxiety and embarrassment. Throw in anger and sadness for good measure, and you’ve got quite a brew to work through.

There’s an evolutionary reason for our strong responses to rejection too: being rejected from our clan could mean life or death back when predators roamed about and we sought the safety of our village. The good news is that rejection (whether in bed, or more generally) won’t threaten our survival in any literal sense.

Ultimately, rejection is an affirmation that we are incompatible with a particular partner.

Rejection can look and feel different for different people, but you may experience it as:

  • Being ghosted , overlooked or ignored
  • Being turned down for a date
  • Having a partner go soft or dry, mid-act
  • Having a long-term partner break things off
  • Being cheated on

How to overcome feelings of rejection

Ultimately, rejection is an affirmation that we are incompatible with a particular partner. As Bitty says, “Rejection has a lot more to do with [someone else’s] resources than it does with our individual worth.” Processing this rejection through the lens of cost of capacity and benefit can help us see the bigger picture; Bitty adds, “It isn’t really about us. It’s about them.” Really!

Here are other simple, gentle steps you can take to help work past feelings of rejection:

  • Understand your feelings are valid — rejection hurts
  • Remind yourself (again) that everyone goes through it; even the person who rejected you has themselves been rejected at some point
  • Take the experience as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself (and others) and grow from it
  • Remind yourself of your innate worth
  • Keep things in perspective; someone’s “no” is another person’s “yes,” so keep going
  • Reject negative self-talk
  • Lean on your support circle
  • Speak to a professional, if needed

By reframing the experience, you can also use it to fuel your creative side; one study found that rejection can help foster creativity and another found it bolstered intuition , so there are upsides to feelings of rejection.

How to embrace rejection

How to reclaim your self-worth

Understand that your self-worth is not defined by another person’s capacity (or incapacity) to connect with you. Their own “personal resources” (i.e. desire, time, money, energy), may be limited for reasons that have nothing to do with you at all, so shift your focus off them and onto yourself instead. The

The University of North Carolina Wilmington suggests asking yourself the following:

  • What words would you use to describe yourself?
  • What value did you place on yourself or aspects of yourself?
  • Were your descriptions generally positive, balanced or negative?
  • Where did your messages around your worth come from?

Bitty explains that a lot of our feelings of “not-enoughness” often arise from heteronormative Eurocentric ideals (especially when it comes to beauty standards ), so we must first dismantle these for ourselves.

By Jane Sullivan

Writers, have you made your New Year’s resolution yet? If not, here’s an idea you might not have considered: in 2019, aim for 100 rejections.

At first sight, this seems a negative and decidedly defeatist goal. Rejection is such a painful and frequently demoralising experience, why would you actually aspire to it? Surely acceptance and publication are better goals to aim for?

Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance, says getting rejections is a form of exposure therapy. Credit: keith morris news / Alamy Stock Photo

But there’s actually a lot of sense in it, and some who have taken up such a resolution have written about their experiences and inspired other writers in turn. It’s not easy: there are usually many moments of self-doubt and backsliding. But those who persevere seem to feel pretty good about it.

In one year, American writer Kim Liao got 43 rejections from literary magazines, residencies and fellowships, and she was pleased with her highest record up to that point. Her professional life turned around when a friend who always seemed to get those elusive residencies, fellowships and publications revealed her secret: “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals … if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”

Liao shellacked all her rejection slips onto her writing desk, and thought of them as “tiny ticks on the slow-moving clock of my writing career”. She became a reader and editor herself, and saw the submission process from the other side. “Now, I see rejection as a conversation,” she writes in Lit Hub. “For every piece that is rejected, at least one other person read it, thought about it, and really considered whether it would be a good fit for publication.”

She particularly treasures the rejections that come with some encouraging comment, however small. And yes, she’s had many short stories and essays published in prestigious journals.

Another kind of writer, the comedian Emily Winter, took up the challenge last year, going all out for writing jobs, script contests, auditions, magazine pitches and comedy festivals. She got 101 rejections and 39 acceptances. “I’m so tired, and that’s how I know I did it right,” she writes in The New York Times. “If I weren’t exhausted, it would mean I’d just spent the last year asking for things without putting in the work to earn them.”

Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance, told Winter that what she was doing was exposure therapy: making herself more comfortable with failure to reduce her fear of it.

Another benefit of seeking rejection is that it encourages writers to aim higher – for example, to approach top-ranking international literary journals they’d never expect to give them the time of day. There are writers who have been turned down by The Paris Review or The New Yorker for years … and then one day, there’s a yes.

Rejection of a book is particularly tough because writers put so much of their time, heart and soul into the work. But there are inspiring stories if you look for them. Heidi Durrow got 48 rejections from publishers for her book The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. She was told there was no market for a story about a half-black, half-Danish girl. Then her book won the 2008 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. It was published and became a bestseller.

The one problem the 100 rejections target hasn’t yet solved is how to deal with the increasing number of occasions when writers don’t receive a rejection at all … just silence.

Still, that’s no reason for not giving it a red hot go. As writer Aaron Hamburger says: “If you’re not getting rejected, you’re not a writer. You’re a hobbyist.”

How to embrace rejection

As much as it stings, rejection is a healthy part of our overall life experience. As a writer, rejection is a core part of my life. Much of my work in this area involves sending pieces or pitches for work and awaiting responses.

At this time, this wasn’t for us’ are some of the ickiest words to land in my inbox, but they do land there. Multiple times a week. As I’ve become hardier at using these rejections to improve myself as a writer, the emails have gotten easier to handle (marginally). Getting comfortable with rejection might feel like a difficult process, but it’s one well worth investing in.

During the midst of some of my harshest rejection experiences, close ones have often reached out with every single positive platitude they could get their hands on:

It wasn’t meant to be.

Something better is waiting around the corner.

Nothing good gets away.

It was the wrong timing.

While I appreciate the beauty in these sentiments and I know how well-meant they are, let’s just acknowledge that when we’re caught in the cold-snap of rejection no one really wants to hear them. Over time, as the sting of our rejection begins to melt away these are great words to turn to. They can form an important part of developing an internal practice of learning to better cope with rejection.

The key for me here is the acknowledgment that they are part of a larger practice. Adhering to words like these alone won’t see you taking ownership of the things you want in life. Leaving our core desires and life goals to some fatalistic notion of ‘nothing good gets away’ will also leave you facing a loop of rejection.

So what do some of the other parts of the practice of processing rejection?

3 Ways to Process Rejection

Many of us will have learned ways of handling rejection that we return to again and again. Some of these will be good and others may need to be tweaked or kicked out altogether to enable us to switch from ‘coping with rejection’ to ‘thriving from rejection’.

1. Don’t Turn to Denial

Every rejection we feel in life, we feel. Turning to denial in the face of rejection keeps us bonded to internal fears around our self-worth and value. It keeps us bonded to the fear of pain so we forget — or don’t allow room for — our full capacity to recover and learn from the experience.

I have been guilty of turning to denial on multiple occasions and all it did was keep me locked in more dangerous emotions of loneliness and sadness. Building the muscle to process rejection requires patience, practice, and acknowledgment of how we’re feeling. Even simply saying ‘I was really hopeful about this and it sucks it hasn’t worked out’ or ‘This actually sucks’ are healthy ways to push through denial and into acceptance.

Owning our emotional experiences is key to processing them.

2. Stay Curious About How You Feel

Avoiding or denying rejection removes our openness to, and capacity to endure, our own vulnerability.

Acknowledging rejection as an emotional state allows us to move into a deeper piece of work: the process of understanding why we’re feeling what we feel.

This can be a beautiful, albeit uncomfortable, space to sit within. It usually means examining the most vulnerable parts of ourselves and understanding why the current experience of rejection has opened up an internal emotional wound or two. Maintaining curiosity throughout this process is important, not least because it steers us away from shaming thoughts such as:

‘I knew I was no good and this proves it.’

‘It was ridiculous of me to aim so high.’

‘I’m not made for good things in life.’

Staying curious about yourself and how you feel returns you back to a state of exploration, openness, empathy, and kindness. Approaching rejection with ‘Why’ leading the way opens you up to growth and building that coping muscle.

3. Seek Out Feedback

Rejection is simply part of the writer package, and a lot of the time there’s no strong reason for it. I often get rejection slips that offer me no other feedback other than ‘it wasn’t for us at this time’ and while it’s frustrating, I know I have to let it go.

A lot of the time rejection comes down to not having researched where you’re pitching to enough, the personal feelings of the editor who happens to read your work, or that they already published something too similar quite recently. Do your due diligence and make sure you’re giving your work the best chance for publication.

If you get the opportunity, always seek feedback – many editors are all too happy to offer a nugget or two, and I’ve always found these words help me improve for the better.

Don’t fear feedback.

Embracing Rejection

Learning to embrace rejection allows us to build a clearer picture of our own truth and values in life. It’s a calling card for personal growth and its sting helps to inform us of the changes we might be able to make to move us closer to pursuing the things that help us live along that truth.

Building our rejection coping muscle helps us learn how to respect ourselves while still allowing our bold and daring writing – and heart – out into the world.

Fear holds us back from truly living out our dreams. It’s stopping you from being the person and writer you have always wanted to be. Let’s take a step together towards changing that. Click the button for details on our latest writing course.

I used to think that no one could possibly deal with as much rejection as I do. I’ve been some kind of artist ever since I was five—I’ve been a dancer, a singer/songwriter, an author, a poet, a playwright, a screenwriter, and an actress. When I was in middle school, I auditioned for The Nutcracker three years in a row before I finally made it into the ballet. I’ve been rejected in hundreds of situations: plays and films I wasn’t cast in, bands who didn’t want me as a singer, literary agents who didn’t want to represent my novel, MFA programs I didn’t get into, writing contests I didn’t win. I was just rejected today even. I entered a screenplay proposal into the Twilight Storytellers project, and it was chosen as one of the top 40 finalists, but didn’t make it into the top 20.

I’m not going to lie. Every time I get rejected, it does sting a little. I could enter a playwriting contest I only halfway want to participate in and still feel disappointed when I wasn’t selected. But ultimately, you dust yourself off and get back up. You eat some ice cream, listen to The Smiths, and watch Clueless for the 80th time. You read that one blog post about how many times J.K. Rowling was rejected and you keep going. You keep writing. You keep creating.

When I gave this idea more consideration, though, I realized that artists don’t actually get rejected any more than non-artists. People have to deal with rejection every day: the job you didn’t get, the dude/lady who never called you back after the date, the idea you offered at work that wasn’t used, the bowling game you lost to your best friend, the tweet you sent in to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that never got read on air. Sometimes they are big and sometimes they are tiny, but everyone gets rejected many, many times.

Whenever I experience artistic rejection, I have to remind myself that all art is subjective. Most of the time, artists get rejected for reasons that have nothing to do with the amount of talent they have. The casting director wants a blonde girl for the role, and you happen to be a brunette. The play festival needs a play that’s 15 minutes, and yours is 25. The band wants someone who wants to go on tour, and you don’t like to travel. Or it could just be a matter of opinion. One literary agent doesn’t like your novel at all and another agent thinks it’s the best book she’s read in years. Maybe someone even flat out criticizes you and calls your work super boring. But in that case, you can always take a lesson from the Dude: “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

I have learned that most of the non-artistic rejections are not about me either. Maybe I didn’t get the job because they want to promote someone in-house instead of hiring an outsider. Maybe that cute guy didn’t call me back because he’s allergic to cats and he found out I’m a crazy cat lady. Maybe I got the wrong size bowling shoes. And maybe Jimmy Fallon never got to read my brilliant tweet. (You mean he doesn’t read all of them?)

Now, I celebrate my losses and rejections as much as I celebrate my wins. I know that the more rejections I get, the more I am putting myself out there, the more I am trying. And as much as I have gotten rejected, I have accomplished quite a lot as an artist. I know that every time I get rejected, there is something valuable to learn. My most recent rejection reminded me that it’s been a while since I have “lost,” which means I haven’t been playing enough. This has inspired me to write more short plays and screenplays to submit to other projects. Sometimes something seems like a loss, but there is a different and better opportunity around the corner. Have you ever been disappointed not to land that job you wanted only to be offered a better-paying job that’s closer to where you live with people you are more compatible with the following week? I bet when you look back, you are incredibly grateful for the first rejection.

So whether you’re a writer dealing with a rejection letter, a single lady who didn’t get a second date with the cute bartender, an unemployed college graduate who aced the interview but didn’t get the job, or a member of the losing team in the soccer game, learn to love your losses as much as your wins. They will help you just as much, and sometimes even more.

Sara Crawford is a writer and musician from Atlanta, Georgia. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. Her upcoming debut young adult novel is called “The Muses.” Her two best friends are her cats, Frank and Julian, and she has a big tattoo of Morrissey on her leg, which frequently gets mistaken for Elvis. You can follow her on Twitter at @sara_crawford.

Lessons in weathering rejection and enhancing your professional life.

Posted January 29, 2021

Some of the greatest risks one takes have nothing to do with physical danger; they are the risks to the ego, to the self. One of these risks is that of rejection, and all of the unpleasant emotions and negative thinking that come with that. Weathering rejections takes a bit of practice and I offer you several lessons from my career.

The Wall of Shame

When I was in graduate school, I got my first lesson in putting yourself out there, bravely, frequently, and for all to see. One of the assistant professors had a wall in his office that he designated the Wall of Shame. On it, he would display his rejection letters for his grant applications, publications, and other endeavors. Thinking back on it, he had a fairly impressive Wall of Shame.

How to embrace rejection

The students soon followed suit and his office became literally plastered with everyone’s rejections. The Wall of Shame had become a Wall of Honor, and to not be on the Wall of Shame indicated that you weren’t trying all that hard.

He began the difficult lesson that you have to be prepared for rejection if you plan to get anywhere, that you are not alone in your rejection experience, and that even the highest achievers amongst us get rejections.

You Will Never Accomplish That!

As I think back on some of my rejection experiences, the most formative was from a publisher the first time I submitted a proposal to write a book. One of the reviewers actually stated in their review, “You will never publish this book. ” and then outlined not only the grave faults within my prospectus but also some clear personal ones as well.

I won’t say that it wasn’t upsetting or that it didn’t take me a while to rebound from it. In the end, though, it made me angry — angry enough that I decided I had to publish the book or that reviewer would be proved right. I sent it to a second publisher who also rejected it, albeit more politely and constructively. The third time proved the charm and I find myself currently working on the third edition of said book that would never be published.

The first unprofessional reviewer unwittingly served as an accelerant, though I like to think that I didn’t need that particular type of motivation. The danger of course is internalizing overly negative rejections, such that they halt your progress and make you apprehensive to try again. It is important to remember that if someone finds it necessary to attack you personally, the issue isn’t with you, it is with them. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, get someone to Hold Your Beer, and try again.

I learned later that these kinds of attacks from blinded academic reviewers are not uncommon. There is even (what I call) a support group on Facebook called Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped. It’s an adaptive way of dealing with academic rejection, using humor, getting input from others about publication experiences, receiving support and extreme empathy when you get a nasty review, as well as guidance on how not to be Reviewer 2.

If You Don’t Ask, the Answer Is Always No

Early in my career, I had a memorable experience with a mentor. One day I was complaining about something that I wanted to do but that I did not think my command would support. He looked at me and said, “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” I later found out that this is a popular saying, and I like thinking that this was probably something passed on to him in exactly the same kind of moment in his own career. And, it was exactly what I needed at the time. I rolled with it (and then some).

Ask and Sometimes You Will Receive

Since wholly embracing the “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no” mantra, I went to town and doubled down on everything from funding and professional requests to duty station preferences to running for offices in professional organizations. Astonishingly, there have been a lot of unexpected yeses for requests that I thought had no chance, and, of course, not a few frustrating noes. As my mentor knew they would though, the yeses have surpassed the noes.

You’ll never get everything you want, but you’ll become more effective at asking and you will likely be happily surprised. Plus, the more you put yourself out there, the better your chances of getting yeses. More applications and requests mean more opportunities for your job applications, proposals, college applications, publications, etc. to be accepted. I can’t say there isn’t a sting with any rejection, but the more you put yourself out there, the better you will get at managing it as a normal part of life. And, the better your chances of getting to yes.


  • 1 Samuel Merritt University, School of Nursing, 3100 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. [email protected]
  • PMID: 22536913
  • DOI: 10.1080/07370016.2012.670573
  • Search in PubMed
  • Search in NLM Catalog
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  • 1 Samuel Merritt University, School of Nursing, 3100 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. [email protected]
  • PMID: 22536913
  • DOI: 10.1080/07370016.2012.670573


The purpose of this qualitative study was to further the understanding of father identity and role development among adolescents involved in the justice system. Youth who were expecting a child or parenting an infant and who were incarcerated, arrested, or had admitted to criminal behavior participated in interviews and observations in a juvenile detention center and in the community. Data analysis revealed 4 patterns of fathering intentions: (a) embracing fatherhood, (b) being barred from fatherhood, (c) being ambivalent about fatherhood, or (d) rejecting fatherhood. Community health nurses can use this information to assess father identity status and address factors that interfere with father engagement.

Art Director & Creative Director

Millennials and Generation Z are commonly known as generations of digital natives, meaning they grew up consuming media through pixels on a screen. Older generations, as they begrudgingly adopt new technologies, often insist that we are lazy and dependent on instant gratification. So why is it that there are thousands of popular TikTok accounts teaching kids how to shoot on a film camera? And why would a record player be a best-selling item at Urban Outfitters?

While it is true that I am dependent on the internet — and quite lazy at times — I do not always crave speed and efficiency in every facet of my life. Sometimes, I want to take crappy film photos on a camera without a screen and be excited to receive an envelope of grainy memories two weeks later.

Young adults do, indeed, have far too much screen time, but that is how we do school work, take up remote internships in a pandemic, and stay social. As digital natives, we do not have a choice but to stay up-to-date with the latest digital means of streamlining our lives. It’s all we know, and it can be exhausting. By filling a disposable camera, or by putting a record on, we choose to break up the monotony of our online lives in favor of analog creativity. These actions are outdated, but we return to them as an escape from instant gratification.

Undergoing a physical process to listen to music, develop photos, read a book, or write a letter forces us to be creative with intention, to actively take up space and use more of our senses to create and consume media. Analog methods of creativity simply feel more like living than using the same digital screens we check our emails and go to Zoom lectures with.

Of course, without our phones and computers, we wouldn’t have the power and privilege of efficient creativity. Our devices save us precious time with apps that can shoot, edit, and share photos in seconds. We have nearly infinite access to digital content and a world of information all at our fingertips. They also allow us to create intangible photos and documents, freeing up physical deskspace.

“Undergoing a physical process to listen to music, develop photos, read a book, or write a letter forces us to be creative with intention…”

Still, the world feels too fast sometimes. Reclaiming antiquated ways of doing things is a way to enjoy the process rather than solely caring about the results, and experiences are valuable in and of themselves. Our devices demand our attention for every type of media we consume — from music streaming services to e-books — but allowing the same screens to hold your attention for every form of media is a choice.

Photography has especially seen a resurging interest in analog formats, not because it is necessary, but because it is a delightful experience. Physical objects store memories. Throwing away a photo feels like more of a loss than deleting a photo from a device, the same way that deleting an email is easier than throwing away a handwritten note.

The process of taking photos on a film camera is also a refreshing way to break from the perfectionistic environment of social media. The format makes it impossible to take hundreds of photos just to post one of them, and it forces you to accept what your camera sees as reality. You cannot Facetune it, just like you cannot Facetune a memory.

In America, we are taught that time is money and efficiency is the key to happiness. Digital media is the most efficient form of creation and consumption, but that doesn’t mean it is always the best. Next time you feel trapped by your laptop screen, put those capitalistic ideas aside and remember that you can reclaim your hobbies from the digital realm. There is a beautiful, tangible, creative world out there that wants you to slow down and take a deep breath.