13 August 2008

Rejection is...

...not the four-letter word that people make it out to be. I promise.

Granted, I am one of those glass half full, silver lining, true love does exist, everything happens for a reason types. Still, I don't feel that disqualifies me from making such a bold statement.

You see, unfortunately for me, I have dealt with my fair share of rejection (in all its various disguises) during the course of my almost twenty-three years of life, and as of late, I have had that rejection amplified due to the fact that I am putting myself out on two limbs at once. Not only am I scouring a job market that I don't believe anyone would refer to as encouraging, but I also am attempting to procure an agent for my first book.

On the one hand, I am being told (without the use of words or a response of any kind, in fact) that I am not right for this or that job. On the other, I am being told that my book (my baby, the fruit of a grueling month of hard work and reclusiveness - not to mention the never-ending editorial process) is not right for this or that agent.

The way I see it, I could view the rejections as some sort of value judgment - you're not good enough, your work isn't good enough, your skills aren't good enough, et cetera. BUT, I choose to take the rejections at face value. What the prospective employers and agents actually are telling me is that they don't want me/my novel. Before you start wondering how that is different from despairing interpretation I just denounced, let me explain.

They don't want me. Sit with that for a second.

I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want someone who doesn't want me, for whatever reason. I wouldn't want to stay in a romantic relationship with a man who didn't want me. I wouldn't want to be friends with someone who didn't want my friendship. And, I'm not going to beat myself up because a Company X or Ms. Agent doesn't want me as an employee or a client.

Of course, the why does matter, but it's secondary. I approach the why almost clinically with an emphasis on "what can I do better" not "what did I do wrong." As my friends in the PR industry would tell you, it's all about the spin. I find that there is no better person to spin for than yourself.

Another trick I use to deal with rejection is to focus on the moments (however rare) that have gone right (been exceptional) rather than on all the bad ones. For instance, I remind myself that with my most recent jobs, the interviews have been more of a formality than anything because my employers were that impressed with my resume (and I felt very appreciated by those employers the majority of my time with them). In terms of getting my book published, I keep in mind the fact that I have only queried a grand total of FOUR agents out of a pool of approximately 400-450. And, my first query letter ever resulted in a request for a partial.

Those small things can seem like nothing if I'm feeling particularly self-indulgent and down-trodden, but most of the time I see them for what they are - impressive accomplishments. I'm sure that if you use your energy to sort through your life with a filter of positivity (even you pessimists) you'll find that you have a few gems of your own that you can polish and wear proudly as you face rejection and look gorgeous while doing it.

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