How often do we consider that triumph and failure are more a matter of perspective than absolutes?
There are some who believe that the only way to succeed is to accomplish exactly what you set out to do. I’ve never seen it that way…maybe because my long history of anxiety requires me to look at success/failure on a different metric. Instead of the ultimate goal-achievement being the victory, and everything else existing as either a step on the road or a setback, I’ve been training myself to see every bit of the journey as a victory.
That includes the inevitability of rejection.
Rejection is something every writer is guaranteed to face in one form or another. If it’s not the rejection of a pitch to an agent or publisher, then eventually, some reader, pundit, columnist, or reviewer is going to reject your story. Maybe on the basis of prose, characters, message…it doesn’t matter. Someone will reject it. And in the moment, rejection does not feel good. Honestly, it just plain sucks. But as with everything, we have a choice to change our perspective before we lose our way down the road of wallowing in dismay and self-doubt.
Here’s the thing about rejection, and why I believe we can train our minds not to come undone when it happens to us: there is actually a way to avoid all rejection from others, and that’s by rejecting ourselves. Rejecting our aspirations, rejecting our stories, and never putting them out there where anyone else can reject them. In short, it’s only possible to receive rejection from others if you put something out there in the first place. See how that’s a victory?
This week, I want to encourage all of you to start to look at rejection as a form of victory. Because, while the rejection itself may sting, it’s the kind of pain that lets you know you’re alive. It’s a growing pain…the sort that allows you to move forward, better yourself and your manuscript, and try again. A rejection letter, a one-star review, a flaming blog post about you or your work…none of this has the power to define you unless you give it that power. And none of it is the end of you, or your story, unless you allow it to be.
So, when you receive a rejection letter, throw yourself a small party. You were only able to receive that letter because you took a step some have never brought themselves to take. You put yourself out there. Instead of wallowing in the rejection, celebrate your brave. And then do it again. And again. And again. Embrace the victories along the way as you work toward the Big One. And always have the courage to keep facing rejection…because it is a glowing sign that you are not rejecting yourself. That’s a form of loving yourself, and your story.
And that, my friends, is an unspeakable victory.