The rejection sucks in the beginning and it gets worse before it gets better when it’s still unclear if you’ll rise from the ashes. But you will, and we will. We are in control of our success if we’re willing to take the bait of a guru in disguise.
I recently read a recap of an inspiring Buzzfeed movement initiated by Saeed Jones urging writers, artists, and other creatives to #shareyourrejections. It was funny and inspiring, and I felt motivated to continue to use the fuel of the naysayers to keep me focused on goals in my own life. Admittedly what struck me was the absence of perspective or encouragement from the “non-creatives” or - said better - those of us chasing the top end of the 9-5 dream.
Let me explain.
I’m pretty damn proud of everything I’ve accomplished to this point. But while I may never win and Emmy, never publish a book, and never go on a comedy tour, I’ve kicked some serious ass in my field and in my side hustles.
I remember in a previous job, some pesky dude about 3 years my senior said in the middle of a conversation where I was inquiring about an open position in his group “Just keep doing good work. As a girl they want you to be nice, and not ask for too much. Honestly you’ll move up fastest that way.”
Let me explain why this is suck a “f*ck you” glaring rejection. He had reached out to me about my experience. He has spent months telling me about how he maneuvered from his initial position (in the role I then held). He was the one who told me about the opening. I’d done my homework. I’d read the qualifications. I was telling him why I was qualified; opening the door to start the process of transition. And he shut it in my face, with a side of demeaning commentary. I was lit. Let’s be real, I still am.
That marked the day I started looking outside the company. I took interviews with head hunters, I scoured my friend network, and I ended up in my current position. During the process I found out I was being underpaid, getting shafted on flexibility, and being given no trajectory.
I’ll remember that the only true progress is intrinsic, and that those on the outside are only pawns the end game.
Three years later I’ve exceeded my own 5-year professional goals by such stride I had to re-write them. I started traveling. I got promoted. I started to own my projects, my client relationships, and my schedule.
It may sound like an intangible win. I don’t have a book to mail this guy. I won’t have a show where he’ll see my name the credits. In fact, there may never be a way to send a bag full of poo in return for his rejection.
Instead I’ll have to do what most of us outside the creative space will do in this arena. I’ll have to sniff out the next rejection as an opportunity to rise again. I’ll have to stack my rejections like the bricks that layer the foundation of my worth. I’ll remember that the only true progress is intrinsic, and that those on the outside are only pawns the end game.
I hope you’ll #shareyourrejections. I hope you keep them close like a dragon in your belly so the fire breathes from your heart. I hope one day I’ll see you for coffee or scroll through your feeds and hear the stories of your triumphs. The rejection sucks in the beginning and it gets worse before it gets better when it’s still unclear if you’ll rise from the ashes. But you will, and we will. We are in control of our success if we’re willing to take the bait of a guru in disguise.