We have nothing to fear but fear itself – well, that and rejection

rejected-stamp-thumb8591041 I made a phone call last week. Not just any phone call. I called a publicist to set up an interview with a celebrity who’s recently turned 40. I’ve been putting it off for months. Why? I was afraid they’d tell me no.

I envy the way the word “no” rolls off the backs of most men. I’ve watched them after hearing the word no, scooping themselves up, dusting themselves off and moving on to the next woman, business or project, intuitively understanding that each “no” gets them that much closer to their “YES!”

But for me, and I suspect many women, a simple “no, she’s  currently unavailable to interview with you” turns into something along the lines of  “NO, you’re not worth our time or effort, and what you’re trying to accomplish is ridiculous, and who in the world do you think you are anyway?!?” Whew! That’s an awful lot of negativity to pack into a simple two letter word. But oh what powers we endow to the word “no!” 

So, how do you stop that script from playing in your head long enough to make some headway toward your goals? How do you do something when the possibility of a painful rejection is ever present? The simple answer is, you just do it. You pick up the phone, steady your voice and ask the question. You finish writing that book, that screenplay, that business plan and you submit it. You let go, and then you try not to take anything personally.

For a while you’ll fail at the not taking it personally part. If you’re anything like me, you might always struggle to get that one down. But keep calling, writing, sending and trying anyway. Decide not to quit. Decide that doing whatever it is you need to do is more important than your fear and more important than the pain of rejection.  Whether you get a yes or no is irrelevant really. A “yes” would be awesome, but a “no” won’t kill you. In fact, there’s a name for the steady succession of “no’s” that will eventually carry you to the right “yes.” It’s called Failing Forward.  And as proof, here are a few people who failed forward big time:

  • Stephen King threw his CARRIE manuscript in the garbage because he was tired of the rejections. Thankfully his wife retrieved it.
  • Albert Einstein failed his entrance exam into college.
  • An editor once told F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”
  • Stephenie Meyers’ hugely popular Twilight vampire series was rejected by 14 agents, but debuted at #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list when it was released in 2005.
  • One of Dr. Seuss’ rejection letters read like this: “too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”
  • Oscar winner Julia Roberts auditioned for All My Children and was rejected.
  • Beethoven was told by a music teacher that “as a composer he [was] hopeless.”
  • Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team, went home, locked himself in his room and cried.

If you’ve been rejected, you’re in really good company. Don’t be the one who left the manuscript in the trash can, or the one who never won an Oscar because she wasn’t good enough for All My Children.  I haven’t heard a word from publicist number one, but I’ve got at least 20 more on my list, and tomorrow is a new day. I’ve decided not to quit. Will you?

What has fear of rejection prevented you from doing? How would your life be different if you weren’t so afraid of it? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on our Facebook Fan Page.

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Grace is a freelance writer and blogger living in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • paulaficara

    Ah! I deal with the exact same thing every day! One of my favorite mantras is “All the ability I have is within me now!” and I say that at my desk as scary things arise! I think I might print this one out and keep it close by! Thanks Grace! From one editor to another – you rock!

    Paula Ficara

  • womenatforty

    Thanks Paula and I think I'll borrow your mantra – “All the ability I have is within me now!” Looking forward to checking it Kougar Magazine.

  • My only fears of rejection have to do with my writing. I sometimes sit here and think about why would I want to try so hard when I will never get published in a printed magazine or book. I get over it and move on, but it IS hard! This is a very motivating piece so thank you!!

  • I needed to read this TODAY. Thank you Grace.

  • Anonymous

    So did I – I’m so glad it was helpful!

  • Anonymous

    Christine – I face the same fears with my writing. I’ve been working on several things for years but won’t really give 100% because I think to myself, what if I give 100% and still “fail?” But I think the answer is you do it anyway. I’ve read your posts, I know you’re a great writer, and so do a lot of other people. Keep at it, keep at it, keep at it. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    This was like a shot in the arm..or anywhere else. Thank you!!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks FrannieZ, so glad you liked it. Believe it or not when you all comment, that’s a shot in my arm too!