There are stages of rejection, sure, but I’ve always found it more beneficial for myself to skip the “anger” and “sadness” phases. I’m not a robot—obviously, I’ve felt that momentary dip in my confidence, a leveling-out that is painful and headache inducing. I won’t say I haven’t cried over a rejection, because I have, many, many times. But within an hour or so, I usually find myself yearning for productivity in some form. Even if it’s something as menial as taking a walk outside, cleaning the kitchen, or brain-storming on a story idea that’s been tucked away for ages. And I think the reasons for this are twofold: one, I want to take my mind off of the failure, and two, I want to show whatever jackass who thought I wasn’t good enough that they were, in fact, wrong. I think some people have taken my less-dramatic, cinema-worthy reactions as a sign of sociopathic tendencies—really, I’m serious. For some reason, we’ve got it into our heads that there should be a mourning period for our failures, for the tiny cruelties of the day-to-day. People who don’t react to a specific emotional formula are seen as insensitive, when really, I respect the hell out of them. Also, reaction doesn’t necessarily comment on the internal; it’s merely surface-oriented, and because of that, deceiving.
It’s this type of reaction that, whether anger-fueled or not, I find soothing. Soon, the initial emotional catalyst (rejection) falls away and I’m back to working on myself, or a project. We are our own projects, really. And being faced with a rejection doesn’t mean that we’re failed human beings, it means that we are human beings and imperfect and that most rejections (especially in terms of creativity) are subjective things that spurn any type of real analysis.
I read an article once that talked about the habits of the highly successful. One of the main points that struck me was that a good portion of highly successful people think that they’re great. Like, uber-talented-genius kind-of-great. And rejections, to them, are just minor road-bumps, and instead of halting their progress in the face of a “no,” they find ways around that generally end up working in their favor. I’m not saying we should all be megalomaniacs. But I am saying that we should find that inner peace that isn’t easily shaken by the countless no-thankses that we will indubitably encounter in our lifetime. I also think this sort of stamina, in regards to disappointment, can make for wonderful opportunities.
I’m wishy-washy on the “one door closes and another opens” philosophy: I think that it’s innately true, but I also believe that we open our own doors, on our own initiative. I don’t subscribe to the notion that everything happens for a reason, because if you think about it, that’s a really terrifying sentiment. I don’t think that heart-breaking tragedies are meant to occur; they are the result of a flawed, and at times, evil world. Bad things happen, and sometimes, they cannot be explained away. That’s the pit-fall to life—it’s oftentimes brutal and removed from logic.
But besides all of that, there are ways that we can cope with our failures, keep our sanity, and know that ever-elusive thing called happiness. With every rejection and subsequent positive reaction we have, we grow stronger and more malleable. People can tell you that you’re not good enough, talented enough, smart enough, pretty enough, ____ enough, but it’s in our control to either believe or dismiss their words. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t listen to critical advice, but we should be able to pick and choose what we take to heart. And if there’s good advice nestled snuggly into a rejection, practice thankfulness in place of defensiveness. Take it and work on it and learn from it. Make something better, and know that rejection and acceptance are two sides of the same coin.