“You weren’t successful this time…”
You know you shouldn’t, but you curl up in bed and hope that you’ll feel better in an hour. Rejection feels hard. It hits you in the gut.
As you lie there, you realise that you’re not just feeling wounded by this setback. All the failures from your life seem to line up in your mind. You begin to think that perhaps the world is right. You should just stop trying to be a creative, you should pursue something easier. You’re too sensitive to deal with a life of knock-backs. You’re not tough enough for this game.
We’ve all been there – and we will all have to deal with this feeling sometimes. Rejection is just much more likely if you’re a freelance creative who is daring to put yourself out there.
I’m going to remind you that the most important part of this is that you are brave enough to put your work out into the world – you dared to show up, where so many people hide. You took a chance – and that is something to celebrate.
I’m also going to remind you of some of the most notorious rejections in history:
Walt Disney was fired from Kansas City Star because he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’. He was also refused 300 times by banks who thought the idea of Mickey Mouse was absurd.
Oprah Winfrey was an evening reporter and got fired because she couldn’t keep her emotions at bay.
Jerry Seinfeld was fired after a poor performance on his very minor role on the sitcom Benson (although no one told him he had been fired and he only discovered this when he showed up for a read-through to find his part was missing from the script).
Howard Stern was fired by NBC when he was working as a DJ. He founded XM and the rest is history.
Van Gogh hardly received any acclaim for his work. He only sold one of his paintings while he was alive. Despite this, he continued working throughout his life. Now his paintings are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Stephen King’s first book, Carrie, was rejected thirty times. Apparently King decided to throw the book away, but his wife retrieved it from the bin and convinced him to re-submit it.
When Claude Monet was alive, his work was mocked and rejected by the artistic elite, the Paris Salon.
Rudyard Kipling was fired from his role as contributor to the San Francisco Examiner in 1889 because he was told by an editor, “I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”
Famously, Thomas Edison made one thousand attempts before he was finally able to successfully invent the light bulb.
Emily Dickinson had just 12 poems published during her lifetime out of the one thousand eight hundred she sent to publishers.
So – there you have it!
What matters is that you get up each morning, dust yourself off and keep going. Sharing your work and getting feedback will either give you useful insights to tweak your work, or it will build your stamina and belief that your work is worth something.
Either way, treat it as a gift because it is to keep going.
You are far braver than the majority of people in life who sit behind their laptops and act as the critics.
Your job is to persevere – to keep going and to allow the setbacks to be part of the journey of improving your voice, your style and your impact.
Don’t give up – just tweak, learn your creative voice and keep being brave. The world is full of people following the flock – and we need more bright, brave souls just like you!