Let’s Talk About Rejection, Writing and Otherwise

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Rejection is a rough bag, ain’t it? I was planning on doing a different blog post tonight (stay tuned to the blog in the coming days for that!), but the grrr Mondays rolled around.

My upfront disclaimer here: I like to think of myself as largely an open book, especially here on the blog, but unfortunately, I can only speak vaguely about the source of the specific rejection that spurred on this post and instead will speak more broadly to the idea of rejection.

On Writing Twitter™, I would say about 75 percent of the Tweets is about the pain of rejections and/or the anxiety of waiting for the expected rejection(s); the next 15 percent is thirsty selfies and drama therein; another 5 percent is about acceptances and publication news; and the final 5 percent is a combination of funny memes, jokes and non-writing life talk.

For the most part, to use that phrase again, I like to think I’ve grown a rather thick skin. After all, my writing is being read on a weekly basis by a number of people who subscribe to the newspaper I’m the editor of; I don’t know the exact number of people who actually read my words, as opposed to picking up the paper for the crossword puzzle or sports or the classifieds or what have you, but still. And given some of the feedback I’ve received over the years, positive and negative, again, I know people are reading. So, I know I’m constantly putting myself out there. For better or for worse. And given how negative the negative feedback really can be, you can’t work in the journalism space, or any kind of writing space really, without developing a thick skin of a sort. Otherwise, I’m not sure how you can operate in that space.

What does having a thick skin mean? It means not taking any of it personally. It means not letting negative feedback bring you down. It’s cliché and all of that, but still true. (I’m distinguishing, for the record, between negative feedback and constructive feedback. We should always be open to the latter.)

In other words, I think some in the writing world are a bit too dramatic about rejections and how painful they actually are, but there are other, non-writing related rejections I’m not sure my skin is as thickened to. Like, romantic relationships with women, as I’m still recovering from a break-up nearly two years ago now. Or, in the specific way that spurred this post, but which I can’t speak specifically about unfortunately. It’s the sort of rejection that makes you question your self-worth, your value and whether you’ll be able to move forward. Similar to the romantic relationships actually. Rejections engender similar feelings across the board it seems.

At least, the old Brett most certainly would be spiraling. When I got the news of this specific rejection, I was actually doing Instacart and almost immediately, I had to start self-talking to myself because I couldn’t “lose it” right there in the grocery store. But behind that veil of self-talk, my brain went to its usual spiral starter pack: You’re a worthless piece of crap; Time to go home and stuff your face: and, Did I mention, you’re a worthless piece of crap?

Fortunately, with this specific rejection, aside from being better equipped to deal with the spiral starter pack there, I also must admit to sort of being relieved by the rejection? A little bit? Because perhaps I wasn’t quite ready for what the acceptance would have meant. Still, if I was doing the percentage thing again, I would say there was 10 percent of me relieved and 90 percent of me ready to spiral because of how disappointed I was and am.

So, I don’t know, I don’t quite have a Larger Point to make here, or a real natural conclusion, and of course, it’s hard to even write about this since I can’t be specific, but I also wanted to write (uh, low-key vent) because that’s how I think and focus and sort through thoughts.

I suppose if I were to try to bottom line this, I would offer, humbly, to those in the writing space, no matter what writing you’re doing, that gaining a thick skin in this regard means understanding that a rejection is only a manifestation of one person’s (or sometimes, a few persons’) opinion. One rejected piece could easily be an accepted piece somewhere else, especially in the small online press world. I wouldn’t extrapolate much of anything from a piece being rejected, as much as it does suck because we’re human and any amount of rejection for any reason sucks.

Alrighty, I’m rambling. What are your thoughts on rejections? Writing-related or otherwise?

9 thoughts

    1. What bugs me about certain criticisms are the ones that certain people have (this can include a job or just regular life) in which they said that already or maybe aren’t reading the situation right. As an example, I have a supervisor at my job who sometimes misinterprets my work style–he considers me to be in “cruise control”, and I just never got that one– or what I’m trying to convey, when it seems that others understand me fine. It’s just something I can do without, especially since I’m currently his only reliable employee:-). So I agree, criticism (especially unfounded or when you’re doing the best you can; i.e. giving a damn), can be a burden.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Agh, that’s so frustrating! I definitely get that one. That sort of thing, where someone misinterprets you and your character, really gets under my skin. Thank you for sharing and commenting!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I never used to handle rejection very well, but as the years have progressed, I’ve learned to let things go more easily. Holding everything in makes it impossible to live.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I used to concern myself with rejection, but nowadays I worry about coming off in a way that I don’t intend (self-conscious, concerned about the sensitivity of others).
    For example, I’m crushing on this server who works at a pub in a hotel I also work at; now, I don’t necessary mean to aim for a relationship, but I’d like to get to know her little by little (at this point, I know SOME). But since we’re so busy at our jobs (the company I work for used to clean the pub’s kitchen, but that duty is on pause, as is that opportunity to run into her, unless I’m in the employee sign-in hallway or the hotel lobby) that there isn’t any time for that, plus I don’t want to intrude in her space or ask her a stupid question. So, I’m trying to play it cool but not not play it cold, and not necessarily wait for the PERFECT moments, but the right ones. It’s not really a dilemma for me, but certainly something that is currently keeping my mind occupied (not in a bad way really).
    Wow, that whole paragraph sounds terribly neurotic, I apologize Brett & other readers! Anyway though, even though I NOW can handle rejection, it isn’t any fun, and I feel that the anxiety (before & after the rejection) is even worse. I wish everyone the best in having as many positive daily moments as possible (that helps keep us sane, relatively:-).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, no apologies necessary, as I also relate to that “neurotic” feeling and trying to find that Goldilocks sweet spot in interacting with other humans, whether it’s for a romantic interest or otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, sometimes that sweet spot is tough, and I sometimes grade myself on my interactions (with Colleen the server, that one 20 minute conversation I give a B-; I may have came off like I was being negative with a couple things I said–like saying that I’m in “Survival mode”, but now I’m also in “holiday mode”, so there’s that!–, but to be fair it was a spontaneous conversation when she said “Hey!” to me as I was walking down the hallway at 12 AM).
        I do better these days with letting that stuff go, but I’ve just had too many moments when people have said ” You were being like ___, so I thought you were this way” kind of thing (in reality, as a person, I’m a little bit of everything, so there’s a whole lot of busyness going on with me), and that has kind of affected me. I’ve done too much armchair quarterbacking on myself:-).

        Liked by 1 person

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