For most of us, I’m sure we have those things in our life that can consistently tend to get us down, especially when it comes to some sort of rejection. I feel like this can be especially common if you are in a creative field, where you are open to a lot of criticism and rejection. Although I do have a “day job,” I do work on personal writing projects outside of work, both big and small, and so I deal pretty regularly with rejection related to that, and it can be easy for me to get depressed after getting rejected. To feel like I don’t want to even try anymore, but to me, there’s a reason I work on these projects outside of work. I really love doing it, and it feels like my true calling, if you believe in that sort of thing.
But the fact remains, it’s easy to get down after being rejected. This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time honestly, but recently, I came up with something that I think is a good solution for me and that I wanted to share with my readers here on this blog.
Throughout my life, and over the past few years especially, I have had encouragement and what I feel like were very blatant signs to keep writing, things that told me I was on the right path. But often, when I get that dreaded rejection email (it’s rarely a physical slip these days), I don’t think of those times. I just think of all the other times I’ve been rejected because we are wired to focus on the negative.
I tried to make it a little easier on myself to focus on the positive by creating a list in the notes on my phone of all the times I’ve been encouraged by those around me, and all the times I feel like I have been sent very clear signs that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. It includes things like before my mother died, she sent an essay of mine that had been published to literally everyone she worked with, finding a copy of the first literary journal I was ever published in out when we went to clean out my parents’ house, as if my mother had been reading it recently, and other more random things, like two women I didn’t know from Adam coming in when I used to work as a bartender asking for my name and writing it down because they wanted to remember it for when I became a famous writer, after they found out I was studying creative writing in college.
There are 10 different items on the list, and taken on their own, they might not mean much. After receiving a rejection, having a bad day, and just generally not being in a great day, I could easily convince myself that one or two of the items on the list was just a coincidence or overall not very meaningful. But all 10 taken together, it’s much harder for me to convince myself of that. It’s easier for me to realize instead that maybe the place I received the rejection from was just not the right place for my writing and merely a stepping stone to somewhere that is a better fit for me, which in itself can be frustrating, but is often necessary.
I know this exercise may not look the same for some of you out there, but if you find that there is something that consistently gets you down, and when you’re in a better mood, you can easily come up with arguments against it, try your hand at something like this. Use the notes on your phone too if you know that will work for you, or maybe create a physical list if that makes more sense for your situation. But whatever we can do to keep ourselves from focusing on the negative thoughts is worth it.