Friday, March 29, 2013

You Don't Have to be "Excited" About Failure and Rejection

I read a post the other day at one of my favorite blogs, The Write Practice. I love this blog -- they post digestible writing advice and prompts so that you can practice what you've just read. The post for that day was, "Why You Should Be Excited About Failure and Rejection."

On the one hand, I have to admire the genius of that title. It's a lesson in getting people to read on. "I should be excited about failure and rejection? Whaaaaat? How could I be excited about that? I must read it and find out what they could possibly mean!"

I did read it, and they did give their usual dose of great advice: everyone is scared, rejection isn't the end of the world, don't try to be perfect because no one is, use fear as a motivator, and learn from failure. It's definitely worth reading if you need a bit of a lift.

But. That does not mean I have to be excited about failure and rejection. In today's competitive writing/publishing/social media environment, I think rejection hits a lot harder.

And that's OK.

It's OK not to get excited about failure and rejection. My point is not to lambast The Write Practice's article -- it's a great article. (Read it.) My point is that your feelings of disappointment, depression, failure, glumness, resignation, or rejection blues are perfectly valid. You should not feel ashamed of rejection; everyone is rejected at least once in their life.

You should also never feel ashamed of feeling bad about it. Rejection should feel bad. That's normal. On top of all the pressure put on today's writers, no one needs the additional pressure of being happy all the damn time. Of being excited about rejection because, in the long list of things writers are supposed to be, "positive, peppy, and excited" are also expected of us. That's not healthy. 

Also, if you suffer from depression or what have you, it's downright insulting to have someone tell you what you "should" feel. Even if the message is said with the best of intentions, it sounds like it devalues, makes light of, or invalidates your feelings. It's like Lisa Boncheck Adams, cancer and health blogger, says -- when people say, "Wow! You're in remission? You should feel great!" she knows they mean well. But all she feels is resentment. Words are tricky things.

It's OK to feel bad. I am slowly learning this. Part of the reason I sometimes feel blue, down, and/or depressed is that I was constantly told, "It's not OK to feel bad, and if you do, hide it." I was always expected to put up a good front, a good show, and perform well no matter what.

I think my most "exciting" rejection was getting B-listed for Columbia University. Getting B-listed for Columbia is still pretty darn good. However, Columbia was my dream school, and I was still extremely disappointed. In retrospect, it was probably good that I didn't get accepted because I never would have been able to afford it -- and that would have been a much more depressing outcome. Like the time I got a scholarship to a NYC summer film program and still couldn't afford it. Yeah, that sucked.

Rejection happens. It never feels good, nor should it. It doesn't have to crush you -- but by all means, you don't have to be happy about it either.