Why I think rejection is a good thing

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

I’ve been thinking about how I’ve gotten used to rejection lately. I realised this after I was faced with it again after submitting a piece of writing to an online magazine. It was rushed work done just in time to meet the deadline and I wasn't completely happy with it, although I was happy enough to submit it. Done is better than perfect, after all.

So it was no surprise when the magazine got back to me with a no. However, being a great publication run by great people, they gave me feedback on the piece along with some constructive criticism. It was incredibly helpful and it got me thinking about how I could apply some of the things they’d said to my future writing. It was far from a crushing blow; I was pretty happy about it in fact. But then I had a thought - have I just gotten really used to rejection at this point?

Rejection is usually considered a failure. It’s a “sorry you didn’t make it” and a “better luck next time”. It’s either pitied or looked down upon which I'm starting to think is a real shame.

I’ve spent much of the last two years unsuccessfully applying to jobs. I was going to go through my emails and count the number of rejections I’ve had (from companies who’d bothered to reply of course) but I’m too lazy to do that. But I can tell you I’ve gotten the no-replies, the you-don’t-have-enough-experience, the we’ve-gone-for-another-candidate-with-better-experience, the we-don’t-have-the-budget, and many, many generic we-regret-to-inform-you-that-you’ve-been-unsuccessful-in-your-application-sincerely-random-HR-person-slash-a-robot. 

At the start, the rejections can feel like knocks, sure, but you still have reserves of optimism, believing that good things are on the horizon and you just need to hold out a little longer. And a little longer. And a little longer. And oh fuck this shit, this is depressing as hell. 

The sadness that rejection brings might swallow you up for a while. Sometimes that’s the part that makes you feel most like a failure. But if you face rejection enough to get to this point, there’s at least one good thing that grows within your jaded self - that ‘fuck it’ attitude.

With that comes a ballsiness that strides up to your insecurity and says, “look, let me take things from here”. You start to go for things with decisiveness, or at least a ‘might as well’, whereas before you spent a lot more time feeling reluctant and doubtful. If the worst thing that could happen is rejection, and you’ve faced rejection dozens of times, what is there to lose, really?

That’s not to say that any following rejections will never make you sad again. They can, and in my case they definitely have. But at least the next time around you know things will pick up again. The important thing is not letting rejection, or a fear of rejection, stop you from going for something. After all, rejection can only happen if you’ve tried. It’s the result of putting yourself out there, an act that can take guts, which is a great thing in itself. 

So keep on writing or applying to jobs or auditioning. Ask your crush out on a date! If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. It might get you down for a while but it won’t be forever. This might sound naive but I genuinely believe good things come to those who keep trying. Rejection might be a “you didn’t make it”, but it’s also a “but you did it!”.

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