Dealing with rejection is tough as a woman in the creative industry let alone during a pandemic. Most of us are accustomed to the occasional knockback: the job we didn’t win, failed promotion, the publishing house that wasn’t interested, the audition knockback– it’s an experience we’re all familiar with but never really adjust to. Because no one tells you just how hard it is. That feeling of failure. Like you’re not good enough and you’ll never accomplish anything. There is so much power in the narrative we tell ourselves about success and quite often we remain stuck in this cycle of comparison. It’s that subtle voice telling us…
You should be more successful at this age.
Right now there are millions of people worldwide facing both job and personal rejections. Our entire lives have changed within a few months with global financial deficits, whole cities in lock down, and most of us don’t know how to handle it. Rejection feels like a double blow because most women are in a state of desperation financially or have lost the will to go on.
Naturally, the bodies coping mechanism when it comes to failure is to avoid it at all costs. It’s why we’re less likely to apply for the job or promotion, pursue a dream or make that serious step in a blossoming relationship – we’re so terrified of being rejected that we choose comfort and safety. What we fail to realise is that rejection has the power to cripple our lives long term.
How do you cope with rejection during such a morbid time? How can one remain optimistic after multiple setbacks?
Take heart because it is possible (even if you’re stuck in rejection central).
Top tips for handling rejection
- Ask yourself this question: ‘Who is my biggest critic and why?’
If your biggest critic is you then ask yourself why.
You need to discover the root cause of your rejection and how it has shaped your thinking. It may be that workplace bullying had a profound impact on your self esteem and willingness to put yourself out there. Perhaps you’re paralysed by the curse of comparison and social media makes you feel like you’re a failure because house + car + perfect family + 100k job = success.
Everyone’s version of success is different but the key is remembering your worth. You are no less valuable to the world because you haven’t birthed children or your income is 20k per annum. Forget that notion of success and focus on the legacy you want to leave this world.
If you are your biggest critic…
Take a piece of paper and write a letter to yourself apologising for your current way of thinking. Write down your best qualities and write why the world needs you right now, especially during this pandemic.
If your biggest critic is the voice of others…
At times, our biggest critics can be well meaning friends, partners, kids, parents, and it’s a tragedy when people choose to criticise, rather than encourage their loved one’s to pursue their dreams. Often this comes down to jealousy or insecurity. The important thing to note is you won’t always be able to change their criticism of you, but you can choose to limit their influence over you.
Take a piece of paper and write a letter addressing these people ‘Dear critics…’ and let them know they no longer have any hold on you. Write down your best qualities and how you will use these to transform your world. Affirm that you will not allow rejection to overtake your life anymore.
Find your tribe
Have you ever thought to yourself ‘my friends literally have no idea who I am or what I do.’
Sure, they may know you’re a lawyer or a journalist but they have no idea about your goals or how your mind ticks, what motivates you, your passions. This doesn’t mean they’re not good friends but it may indicate you haven’t found your tribe.
Your tribe are people who share similar goals, skills, beliefs, motivate and challenge you to be a better you. They will champion your work. It won’t feel awkward or pushed because the synchrony will be natural. Part of dealing with rejection is surrounding yourself with people who will lift you up and take you out of a self-pity party when you’re wallowing for too long. A true friend will help you see the horizon when all you see is fog.
Read inspirational biographies.
We are so focussed on our everyday life problems that we forget the very people who led societies through turbulent times. History is filled with stories of people who suffered and survived the most heinous of events from the Holocaust to genocide, slavery, war, there are literally millions of people who chose to rise above their circumstances and transformed the world in their own unique way. These people didn’t have special powers, but they did adopt habits and mindsets that impacted their own lives and these are worth learning about.
Ask friends for recommendations on historical biographies or go on the Goodreads app to read book reviews if you’re not sure where to start. Take notes while you read and focus on these three key questions:
- What did this person have to endure?
- How did they overcome their struggles?
- What can I learn from their life?
In doing this, it will broaden your perspective and provide you with the inspiration you need to keep persevering.
Accept that rejection is part of life
Brutal but true. It’s not what we want to hear after receiving our twelfth publishing rejection. And while where on it how many rejections should you have to experience? Twenty? Sixty? The answer is yes and yes. Rejection is part of the beautiful tragedy of life because it helps us to learn, grow and develop as a person. We don’t get to skip the process.
Rejection means there is something or someone out there that is so much better than what we imagined. As cliché as it may sound, there will be a job that aligns with your passions and skills. There will be a life partner who loves you for you and won’t try to change you. There will be a day when a door will open for you. It’s just not now.
Waiting is the hardest part, which is why it’s crucial that you use this time to protect your mental health and consume your life with positive habits or you will spiral down a trajectory of negative thinking. Remind yourself that while rejection is our enemy, it can also be our friend. Making peace with rejection will help you develop into a stronger person. You will look back and not even recognise this person who was trapped by rejection.
If you could never fail what would you attempt? Think about that for a second carefully. If you had nothing stopping you – no opinions or self-criticism – no barriers – what would you take on? Set yourself a month (a whole month) of failing. Write a list of things that you want to do and don’t think about what could go wrong. Obviously use discretion when it comes to financial risks and seek advice but for the most part – rid yourself of that thought of ‘what could go wrong’ and let yourself loose. Attempt things. Then fail. Or not. You might find that most the ‘failing’ was in your head anyway.
If you don’t connect with anything on this page read this: Don’t allow Covid-19 or a person to take away your self-confidence. Know that despite your circumstances, you still have something unique and valuable to contribute to this world.
For all our sake, don’t give up on you.