January 23, 2013

How To Deal With Professional And Romantic Rejection

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About a year ago, I went out for coffee with a new friend I’d met through a part-time freelance job. She was interested in getting her writing out there more, and wanted to know how to get published. My answer was: Get rejected. Get rejected a lot. If you think someone who is successful isn’t wholly used to rejection, you’re not seeing the whole truth. Think of it this way: You’re only seeing the successes.

All you see are the pieces pitched that were accepted.

Personally, I’ve spent entire days putting together and researching pages and pages of pitches. In the end, I probably get to write one of them, if I’m lucky. I pitched to two different editors of an inflight magazine for weeks, only for them to reject everything I sent. I pitch to the New York Times Magazine constantly. You see the two stories I did get published. I see the twenty-five rejections that came with it.

I’ve been told by professional editors that my writing is “dull” or “doesn’t sparkle” and by Internet commenters that I should “eat a mosquito with AIDS” or that I’m “not as clever as [I] think [I am]” or that my self-promotion is “annoying.” I used to think this meant I was “a bad writer.” Period. The End. But now I know it just means I wasn’t for them. And that’s okay.

So the best way to deal with rejection is to keep it in perspective. To know that it is not a judgement on you as a person and it’s not personal. Do not let getting rejected stop you or scare you off writing — or really anything in life. Take “writing” here and replace it with “love” or your chosen career. You need to throw a million things at the wall; it increases your chances that even one will stick. One is all you need. (If you’re monogamous. If not, then I guess three to five is all you need! But you go out there and get it!)

Life, I bet, is just naturally 80 percent rejection, 20 percent success. Don’t let it discourage you, don’t believe for a second that other people, even the ones who seem SO successful and happy, don’t go through this too, and don’t convince yourself that hard work, humiliation and humility, and perseverance aren’t reality.

I am rejected, embarrassed and insulted all the time.

And then you guys see one awesome published story. That’s the truth.

Now apply that to, let’s say, love and relationships. No one posts on Facebook when they’ve asked someone out and that person said “no,” right? Of course not. That’d be super weird. Similarly, when you see “everyone” getting engaged or in smiley beach photos with their boo, you’re only seeing the good, you know? Again, the best way to deal with rejection is to realize that it’s universal and not a decision by the universe that you are unlovable and undeserving of love. It means that you weren’t right for them — not that you aren’t right for anybody.

And don’t you, in the end, want to be with someone who wants you just as much? Why hold on to a person who is rejecting you? You’re great! You should value yourself that same way. I know it sucks to be rejected and I know this is all easier said than done, but try and apply the same perspective.

It’s not always about you. Maybe they have something else going on that they’re not ready to talk about. Maybe they have a bunch of hang-ups and you’re just not going to be able to “fix” them. Getting rejected romantically does not mean you’re unworthy or bad. It means someone else has a problem and it’s not your job to go in with a hammer and nails and try to put things back together where they don’t belong. Don’t let this shut you down altogether. You should actually do the opposite. Go forth and throw some more things against the wall; That’s the only way that something, I promise you, will stick.

Or you could always, as my boyfriend just suggested, “Wait ten years, get super skinny, hot and successful. Date them again. Dump them.” Revenge! TC Mark

Gaby Dunn

Gaby Dunn is a writer, comedian, journalist and Jesse Eisenberg enthusiast living in Los Angeles. Email her at: …

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