Friday, March 18, 2011

Rejection Can Be Good

    Rejection is hard--at first. You feel like you've been punched in the stomach, and the wind's been knocked out of you. Whether you submitted a story to a magazine and got a curt, succinct rejection letter, or asked someone new out on a date and they said they "aren't dating right now", or simply gave your poem to a friend to read and they hated it, I know that rejection is no fun. But it can be helpful. Maybe your story could use some more work. Maybe the person you asked out just got out of a bad relationship. And maybe your friend needs to learn how to give constructive criticism. That, or your poem really is bad.
    Learning to deal with rejection takes time, and it takes a lot of behavior modification. You have to learn that rejection isn't always personal. Sometimes it's just business. Other times, you can never know the whole story of what's going on in someone else's life to know whether their reasons for rejecting you are because of something having to do with them or something having to do with you.
    Dealing with rejection means you have to steel yourself, prepare for it. You have a 50-50 chance your story will be rejected; you have a 50-50 chance of getting the date, or not; and you have a 50-50 chance your friend will hate the poem. You have to recognize the situations in which you may possibly experience rejection as an outcome, and then prepare for it. Maybe it will turn out fine in the end, but knowing it may not, and preparing yourself for that, helps in coping with the rejection and not taking it personally (even if it is actually personal). 
    So, how is rejection good? It hurts. Steeled or not, it still hurts. It still shocks. It still sucks. But--you can learn from it. For anything that happens, if you can learn from it, then it wasn't completely pointless; it wasn't a complete waste of time; it wasn't all for nothing. What you may learn from that rejection will depend on the situation. You may learn you're a terrible poet, and you'll have to accept that. You could learn that you shouldn't ask people out who are of that personality type, no matter how much you like them.
    You could learn any number of things, but in order to do so, you cannot mope. You can't bitch and complain that nothing ever goes right. You can't beat yourself up about it. I've said it before, dear readers, and I'll say it again: shit happens. Rejection is just one of those shit things that happens sometimes.
    But if you never put yourself out there, if you never take some risks--you don't have to invest your life savings in the stock market or skydive out of an airplane at 20,000 feet to take risks--you'll never experience the rewards that do occasionally follow. Your story may get published. The person will say yes to dinner. Your friend thinks your poem is reminiscent of an early Robert Frost. Whatever the case may be, risks are a part of life, a part of humanity. Greatness was never achieved by playing it safe.
"Sometimes, you just have to say, 'What the fuck.' " (Joel-Risky Business)


Outnumbered said...

A life changing moment for me, was when I learned the "Throw Caution to the Wind" mantra by which I now permanently live. Submit your story/essay/poem, ask him for his number/coffee/random hate sex, ask the stupid questions, try the different food, dress outrageously...what's the worst that can happen? So what if someone says "no" it's just one tiny little word, it can't possibly be worse than spending your life wondering if it could have been a yes - that is far worse than any rejection

Constant Writer said...

Totally agree. More often than not, not knowing is so much worse than a bad outcome. While I still can't completely throw caution to the wind though--I'm way too OCD sometimes to do that--I do think things could work out really great if I did that more often :D

+Constant Writer

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