If you look at ANY successful person in the world, guarantee they’ve failed a time or two. (Or seven hundred). What’s crazy about life is how much time and effort we dedicate to pretending that we don’t mess up, hit bumps in the road, or get rejected from time to time.
But the truth is, we all do.
Before getting my first volume of poetry published, the manuscript was rejected several times. Before I had my first viral article, “I Am Not A Netflix and Chill Girl,” on Thought Catalog, they said ‘no’ to about twenty other pieces. And before I landed my first client for my writing coaching/tutoring/editing business, Be A Light Collective, I had probably fifty potential clients go in different directions.
The point is, everyone faces rejection. Everyone fails. And everyone thinks they’re going to do amazing, falls down, and ends up starting completely over somewhere along the way.
I think the most important thing we have to learn is that to overcome rejection, you have to be okay with the process. You have to accept that this is a part of life. And you have to be patient (and forgiving) with yourself and your journey.
Here are four tangible ways to overcome rejection (both personal and professional):
1. See it as a second chance.
One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned in rejection is to see it as a second chance. When one of my beloved articles was turned back with a fat ‘No!” I realized that this gave me another opportunity to perfect my writing.
Perhaps the editors hadn’t jived with the content or message. Perhaps what I thought was a great ending actually wasn’t at all. Or perhaps I had spelling and grammar errors that I didn’t notice because I was too rushed and excited about sending it out. Whatever the case may be (and to be honest, sometimes you just don’t know!) it gave me another opportunity to start over.
If you want to overcome rejection, sometimes it’s as simple as seeing it in a different light.
2. Start building a list of ‘do-better’ ideas.
After being rejected, you have to put your focus on productive things (or you’ll drive yourself crazy). Sometimes the rejection is warranted, and sometimes it’s not. Regardless of whether or not it’s valid, all you can do is improve yourself for the next time around. And that starts with creating a list of things you want to improve upon.
I personally call this my ‘do-better’ list. And depending on what it is you’ve been rejected about, you can make this list as general or specific as you want. For example, if you were turned down for a date, maybe you want to invest in yourself. Maybe you want to hit the gym to work on your confidence or buy a new outfit so that you feel like a new version of yourself. If you were rejected on your art, maybe you want to rewrite the piece’s artist statement to more accurately reflect your vision. All of these ‘do-better’ items will keep you moving forward rather than hanging onto the negative words from the rejection.
3. Take time for self-evaluation.
When something of yours is rejected, you have to evaluate yourself/your work and see if there’s any validity to the rejection. If so, take steps to work on it. If not, focus your attention on self-confidence and building more pride in your work.
The sticky thing with rejection is that sometimes it’s very biased. People are human and prone to make human judgments. They don’t necessarily mean to bring their own thoughts and opinions into a rejection, but it happens. And this makes it all the more important to evaluate every rejection with a grain of salt.
Sometimes you’ll be rejected and it won’t make sense. But on the flip-side, sometimes it will. You can’t be too hard on yourself all the time, but you also can’t think you and your work are the center of the universe, either.
After being rejected, take time for self-evaluation. Is the person who rejected you right? Is there something you can work on or fix? And if not, are you able to grow from this experience? Become stronger and more assertive?
4. Build or create something new.
If you want to overcome rejection, one of the most powerful ways (in my opinion) is to completely focus your attention on something new.
If you just got broken up with, rather than obsessing over what you did/didn’t do in the past relationship, focus your attention on a hobby, on building yourself, on friendships, or even on another connection. If you were just rejected for a job, apply for another! Start something on your own (think side-hustle!) or pour your energy into a personal project instead.
Rejection sucks. But it happens to everyone. Rather than letting it control or shape the way you move, use it as a tool to boost your growth. Every setback is a step on the journey. Although you might feel frustrated or stuck right now, know that this will change. And you will get to where you want to be. (Sometimes it just takes time!)
Featured Image Credit: TONL