Your journal prompts this week:
What has been my experience with rejection? How do I respond to it?
How do I wish I responded to rejection, or how can I improve my response to it?
When has rejection pushed me in a different but more aligned direction?
What can I tell myself or what can I do to ease the initial sting of rejection?
Back when I was single and looking to find my person, if I was having a particularly rough go of it, I'd watch the movie He's Just Not That Into You. It helped to remind myself that yes, while some are just not that into me, out there somewhere is that one man who is.
It took me years and lots of bad dates and boyfriends to find him, but I did find my person, my husband. And finding him at last made everything before seem pretty irrelevant.
But for a long time, dealing with rejection in my dating and personal life was all-consuming. It was hard to see the bigger picture, which led to a lot of angst and wasted time. And while that part of my life is behind me, I still encounter rejection in other areas of my life, and that same struggle to accept it, to see beyond that one moment in time, remains.
When you're dating, you're putting yourself out there. When you're trying to make new friends, you're putting yourself out there. When you're interviewing for a job, you're putting yourself out there. And when you're finally sharing you're creative work with the world, you're putting yourself out there.
Since the beginning of this year, my focus has been on putting more of my creative work out into the world. And that has brought in some wonderful support and encouragement from my immediate circle, but with it has also come some criticism and feedback from strangers, sometimes direct and sometimes indirect.
I have long struggled with receiving criticism and with people pleasing. Having someone not like or appreciate my work is something I feel hard—probably much too hard, if I'm being honest.
I notice the unsubscribes, the unfollows, the lack of "likes" or comments or shares. My following is still so small that any drop in numbers or any lack of engagement is quite noticeable.
And the less than positive reviews or comments stick in my mind all day, sometimes all week. They make me question my abilities, my talent, and whether I am on the right path. They linger with me as I work and create, jumping in whenever my mood or energy dips, whenever my own self-doubt opens the door and decides to host a party.
Back when I was dating, this was the point when I'd turn on He's Just Not That Into You or some other rom com to boost my mood. But I haven't yet found the equivalent of that for my current situation, and I'm left to confront exactly why I feel the way I do.
Why does one small negative comment among many positive ones bother me so much? Why does one unsubscribe make me question the worthiness of my work? Why do I interpret silence as "no one cares"?
I think a lot of this is because I've had years of training on seeking external praise (typically in the forms of grades, performance reviews, and bonuses) and far less on building my own internal support. I was trained to value the external praise above my own sense of satisfaction.
When I was dating, I kept going despite the failures and rejection. Why? Because deep within, I believed that that one person was out there, and I'd find him. My "why" for when I was dating was not to make every man I met fall in love with me and marry me, it was to find the ONE person that was for me.
When I translate this outlook to my creations, I realize that I keep creating simply because I love it. Because I want someone to read or listen to my work and have their own "aha!" moment, their own epiphany that shifts their thinking or leads them to make an important change.
And the aim is not for everyone to read it or love it and subscribe to it and praise it, it's to find those people who need to hear what I have to say, right at that moment, and who feel what I have to say deeply.
To feel something deeply, to be shaped and shifted by something someone created is a unique occurrence. It is not commonplace and therefore cannot be felt by everyone.
Ultimately, I believe my people are out there (many of you are here right now), and I'm taking the best step I can take to find them, which is continuing to make and share my creations. If I were to stop or completely change what I create because of one negative comment or because one person didn't like it, it would not only be a disservice to myself, but also a disservice to those who do support me, to those who are looking for creations like mine to soothe their souls.
I'm not saying that this makes it easy to take the rejection or that I'm completed cured of my need to people please, but it does remind me that it's okay to keep putting myself out there so I can find those magical matches. Just like my husband, they do exist. I just need to have some patience as I grow, allowing myself to experience a few necessary mistakes and failures first (no matter how embarrassing they might be in the moment).
Rejection in and of itself is not inherently bad. It clears and narrows and refines so that the right matches can be brought together, at the right place, and at the right time.
Explore your relationship and experience with rejection using the journal prompts above. And as always, feel free to share your thoughts, questions, and insights below.
With much love and gratitude,