Why You Shouldn’t Take Rejection Seriously

– by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound

rejectedAh, rejection. The mere mention of the r-word triggers many a dater’s anxiety and/or depression. Maybe if we came up with another term it wouldn’t hurt so much. How about…cold-shouldered?

I’m kidding, of course. Changing the words we use won’t make it any less painful. No, the best way to do away with the misery of rejection is to stop taking it so damned seriously.

And to help you put rejection in the proper perspective, here’s a 100% true anecdote.

***

For years, I’ve worked as a freelance journalist, having written scores of articles for dozens of publications on a number of topics. While there’s a lot of freedom in freelancing, pretty much every time you pitch an editor there’s a good chance of rejection. If that keeps happening, it can mean hours of research and writing down the drain. And, like being turned down for date after date, it’s easy to take personally.

Last year, I wanted to write an article about a solo mountain biking trip I took into the wilderness. Using my trip notes, I spent a couple of hours writing up a pitch, researched several relevant publications, and sent it out to a few editors. After being shot down and/or ignored for a while, one editor finally emailed that he was interested.

I spent the week writing the article and sent it off. No response. After a week, I followed up, asking if he’d received the piece. Radio silence. So, I waited another week and sent another email. Still nothing. I couldn’t pretend any longer: I was being ghosted!

This is a very difficult spot to be in as a freelancer. The only way to make a living in the field is by selling articles constantly. Normally, if an editor turns down a piece, you can just pitch it to the next one. But, in this situation, I had no idea what was going on.

I thought about sending the article to another publication. But if my piece was accepted elsewhere and then the original editor ended up publishing it, I’d be trashing my professional reputation on both ends.

I tried calling and left a voice message. No call back. Finally, I emailed that I assumed he was no longer interested in my piece and I gave him my address to send my kill fee (a customary payment to a writer if an editor ends up not publishing a requested piece). Dead air.

Frustrated, I emailed the publisher explaining the situation and, sure enough, the editor got back to me a day later. In his email, he told me he wouldn’t be running my piece—he didn’t tell me why—going so far as to claim he never really wanted it in the first place (huh?) and therefore wouldn’t be paying a kill fee.

Knowing my rights, I sent one last email informing him that if I didn’t receive my kill fee, I’d have no choice but to file a small claims court suit. That did the trick and my meager check came in the mail the next week.

Not much of a victory, of course, as I had wasted many hours on this editor, my article was still unpublished, and my only payment was a fraction of what I would’ve been paid otherwise. More than that, the whole process had been depressing. Was my article so bad that an editor not only rejected it after asking for it, but then didn’t even feel the need to tell me he didn’t want it anymore?

At this point, I could have easily told myself my article was lousy and given up on it. Or—even worse—started believing I wasn’t as good a writer as I had thought. Instead, I sent it to another publication. This editor responded the next day, telling me they loved the article and would be running it the following week, which they did.

That experience alone would’ve served as enough of a lesson for me to never again put too much stock in rejection. But that’s not the end of the story.

Much to my surprise, several months after my article ran, I was contacted by this last editor who informed me that my piece had won an award in a nationally recognized journalism contest!

In other words, the very piece that an editor thought was so terrible was singled out by a committee of professional journalists as one of the top articles in the region!

***

Now, let’s apply all of this to dating.

If the people you’re interested in keep refusing to date you, you can let it get you down and maybe even quit trying. What’s more, it can be downright demoralizing when someone says they’re interested in dating you, changes their mind, and then doesn’t even have the courtesy to tell you they’re moving on—much less why.

But, just like with my article, if you keep “pitching,” chances are you’ll not only find someone open to dating you, but who thinks you’re one of the best things around!

So, in the meantime, I hope you never forget how subjective—and constantly changing—people’s tastes can be. Which makes it downright foolish to ever take rejection seriously.

Wes Colton pretty much guarantees he’s been rejected more times than you have and it still hasn’t let it keep him from dating. Ask him about it at wes@introvertunbound.com


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