For many of us creating something on a daily basis, not everything we pitch, present or send into the universe will be masterpieces.
Maybe you’ll never get a reply. Maybe they say they will get back to you and then they never do.
Like romantic rejection, professional rejection hurts. You might hear the rejection masked in kindness from some well-meaning human resources person, but that’s not what you’re thinking of in that moment. Instead, you hear an annoying little voice of doubt lurking in the back of your head.
You had a good run.
Surviving and moving on from rejection is often a solo journey, perhaps one we’re too ashamed to discuss publicly. No writer brags about their unanswered pitches, no actor wants to get honest about how many auditions they never heard back from. Yet, it’s a part of a process: to keep searching, reworking and resubmitting the work until hopefully, someone likes it and gives you that long awaited break.
When BuzzFeed’s Saeed Jones tweeted about his own rejection from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, it gave others the opportunities to share their own brushes with professional frustrations.
Some people overcame their rejections and came out on top anyway. Some even got the last laugh. Others found something even better than what they were originally aiming for. Stories came from writers, poets, filmmakers, artists and all kinds of different creatives.
Famous names like author Roxane Gay, “Reading Rainbow” star Phil LaMarr and animator Jorge Gutierrez shared some of the difficulties they have faced in their industries as well.
In looking over these stories, I realized that I hardly ever pitch or submit something with the optimistic expectation that it is good enough or that I’ll get what I’m applying for. This probably is not the healthiest outlook, but when I don’t get something, I just shrug it off with an “I knew it.” The loss is easier to mourn. When I do get something accepted or offered – like my grad school fellowship – my first response is disbelief.
Learning to conquer our worst fears and doubts about ourselves can feel like half the creative process. So many stories pointed out the fickle nature of success. An artist or creator may never know what unpredictable and highly subjective qualities an agent, faculty member or curator are looking for. The takeaway from #ShareYourRejections isn’t just inspirational stories. It’s acknowledging that rejection is a rite of passage, and reimagining a closed door as an opportunity for something else.