Sylvia Plath said, “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”
If only all of us could handle rejection so gracefully, right? Dealing with professional rejection can be intensely difficult. Whether you’ve had a pitch declined or been turned down for a job, “No thanks” can be a tough pill to swallow. It’s hard not to see each rejection as a failure, and even harder not to let them negatively affect your self-worth and your confidence.
As hard as it is to believe, rejection can actually be a good thing. If you’re having a hard time with rejections, I’ve got a few tips.
Since I was a kid, my mom has encouraged me to periodically make a list of times that I failed and everything still turned out okay. These lists serve as a constructive way to keep myself from falling down a rabbit hole of my own failures, but also an interesting tool to learn from these missteps. Sometimes, in retrospect, you can see that a certain rejection opened the door for something else. It’s all about perspective! And no matter what, this list will help you realize that you’ve crashed before and you survived, so you will survive again.
After you realize (again) that you aren’t defined by the times you didn’t succeed, it’s time to revel in your own successes! Make a list of all the times you achieved something you were proud of, whether it was personal or professional. The accomplishments can be as modest or mundane as you want. (My personal list sometimes includes things like, “Woke up every day before 9AM this week!”) Read over the list a few times until you’ve remembered what a badass you are.
Rejection is only dangerous when we allow ourselves to wallow in it. Rather than despairing, throw yourself into new projects and endeavors. Nothing will make you feel less like a failure than a good dosage of productivity. Make a to-do list and focus on working your way through it. You’ll forget all about this pain soon. Chin up. You got this.