Why You Should Actually Celebrate Rejection

This is an excerpt from my Monday Motivation newsletter. Like what you see? Subscribe here.

Warning: Very sappy post ahead.

I was talking to the lovely highschooler I mentor a few weeks ago and she was distraught because she’d been rejected. She wondered if she should stop writing because she hadn’t won a national writing contest.

Did you get that? She didn’t win first place in a writing contest which THOUSANDS of students entered, and she thought it meant she was a bad writer. This is ridiculous and I told her as much (I said it nicely, don’t freak out).

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Our conversation made me realize how often I’ve made similar assumptions in my own life. I wasn’t the best person on the team so I assumed I shouldn’t be on it. I didn’t get into the first musical theater program I auditioned for, so I decided I must not be good enough to get into any.

But here’s the thing: in order to get what you want out of life, you have to be willing to face rejection.

I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back: in order to get what you want, you have to be willing to face rejection.

In my short time on this earth I’ve been rejected for everything imaginable. I didn’t get most of the student leadership positions I applied for in college. I haven’t gotten 90 percent of the jobs I went after. When I was a performer I didn’t get into most of the shows I auditioned for. Most recently, when I was querying agents for my novel I had an approximate 60 percent rejection rate.

But guess what?

It only takes one yes.

I wish I could show you the incredibly detailed Rejection Spreadsheet I had when querying agents. It was intensely color coded and filled with all sorts of information about how long it took for someone to reject me, if they had anything nice to say, if it was a form letter, how thoroughly they’d crushed my dreams etc.. I’ll protect the innocent and not show the whole thing, but basically here’s what it ended up looking like:

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If you’re wondering if Red was the Color of Rejection the answer is YES. Yes it was. You’ll notice there is exactly one green box.

It only took one.

I didn’t need 25 agents, I needed one. I didn’t need 10 jobs, I needed one.

We live in a world where what you want often lies down a path that someone else has to open the door for. If you want to be a lawyer, you have to get into law school. If you want to be on Broadway, you have to be cast in a Broadway show. If you want to play basketball, you have to make the team.

All this can make it feel like success is out of your hands. This is a lie. Success is up to you. Because in order to get into law school Because in order to get into law school you have to take the LSAT. To be on Broadway, you have to audition. To make the team, you have to try out.

It’s up to you.

Please, for the love of carbs, friends, do not let rejection keep you from knocking on the door. I have folders full of rejections for freelance pitches, jobs, and my novel. But I’ve sold pitches. I have a job I love. And I have representation for that novel.

It only takes one yes.

Keep going. Knock on the door. Make the ask. Start training. Send the application. Cold call the client.

And when you get the (inevitable) first rejection, don’t give up. Rejection isn’t cause for shame, it’s cause for celebration. Why? Because to get rejected you have to actually try for something. If you’ve been rejected, congratulations! Welcome to the club.

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Celebrate your rejections, embrace all the nos that come your way, and get very comfortable with doors being slammed in your face. But never, ever, not even for a minute, let any of those things make you think you’re not good enough. Do not let something as small and insignificant as rejection keep you from your dream.

It only takes one yes. So don’t stop asking.

PS: Want sappy motivation deliver straight to your inbox? Sign up for the Monday Motivation newsletter for GIFs than your heart can handle.

PPS: if you thought you could make it through this post without an LOTR GIF you were kidding yourself.

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Don’t Live On Autopilot

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Hey guess what? Today is a day!

It’s not a reset, it’s not a time to sleepwalk through, it’s not a dream. It’s a day.

Here are a few questions you might encounter today:

  • How’s it going?
  • How was your weekend?
  • How are you?

I don’t know about you but I typically answer these questions without really thinking about it.

“Well, you know, it’s Monday…so…”

“Good. Too short.”

“Living the dream.”

These answers are so boring and cliché they make me want to throw this keyboard across the room. Am I so unoriginal? Am I so out of touch with my life that I can’t even assess how it’s going? Am I really living the dream? If not, why would I joke about that?

Moral of the story: I don’t want to live my life from a script. I don’t want to live on autopilot.

I am the only one responsible for my life. There is no back up person who will take over if I choose to live like a robot.

If you didn’t wake up this morning, don’t panic, there’s still time. Wake up. Today is an actual day in your life. It’s not a freebie, you don’t get a do over. It counts.

Challenge for the week:  Think about the clichés and automatic responses governing your days. Pay attention when people ask you questions and answer them honestly.

Goal for the week: My goal for the week is not to lie about my emotions. This sounds simple, but it’s actually really difficult for me. I’d prefer if no one knew I had feelings, but that’s a story for another time. I think this could be a helpful exercise for most people. When someone asks how you’re doing, don’t lie about your emotions. If your boss checks in, don’t lie about your workload. If someone says no offense, tell them if you’re offended.

Don’t lie about your feelings. Don’t live on autopilot.

Let’s be honest, not apologize for our being, and take the driver’s seat of our life this week. Make today count. It will only happen once.

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You Are Responsible For Your Life

On this lovely morning, if you find yourself tempted to yawn, medicate with coffee or complain the day away, please remember:

You are responsible for your life.

Let it sink in.

You are responsible for your life.

No one else is responsible for your feelings, your finances, your happiness, or your success. It’s just you.

Last week I was really wounded by the way some friends treated me. I was stewing in anger and anxiety, and going over and over the situation in my head when I was reminded of this truth: Other people do not need to change. I need to change.

That’s not to say that I excuse other people when they do something wrong. It means that I am in control of my emotions. I don’t get to decide how people treat me. I do get to decide how I respond to it.

It’s terrifying to claim responsibility for your life. To own the fact that you are wholly responsible for how you respond to slights and success, failure and freedom. But do you know what’s even more terrifying? Letting other people run your existence.

I can’t control other people. I can’t make them kinder, can’t make them give me raises, publish my book or show up on time.

You know what I can control? Myself. I can work on regulating my emotional response. I can stop putting the blame for my unhappiness on others, and take ownership of my life. I can stop expecting other people to do the work of fixing my life and start getting my own hands dirty in the grimy, unglamorous work of self improvement.

Let’s stop blaming our problems on our jobs, our relationships and our circumstances. Let’s stop expecting other people to make our dreams reality.

Hate your job? It’s not your job’s responsibility to change, it’s yours. In an unhappy relationship? Same thing. Constantly exhausted and overwhelmed? See above. Placing the burden of responsibility on outside forces makes us stagnant, it makes us comfortable. It lets us pretend to be helpless, to pretend we are the victims, to pretend we can’t do anything.

This is a lie. You are responsible for your life.

So this week, when you are faced with a moment of apathy, a desire to hit the snooze button, to goof off at work, or gossip about a friend, remember: you are responsible for your life.

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