This year I have had more rejections than I have received in my entire life. I have also put myself, my writing, my art, out there more than I ever have – so it is inevitable that along my journey I’m going to hear the word, “no” and often times more than I do yes. I would be lying if I said that everytime I face some sort of rejection that I smiled through it and didn’t allow it to affect me. I have felt down. I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough and I have questioned if what I was doing was even worth it. These feelings were short lived. I allowed myself to feel whatever emotion I was going through in that moment and let it wash over me almost as quickly as the feelings came. I had five minute pity parties then got back to writing, back to thinking what would I try next and back to creating. Being a writer, a poet and emotional person, it is is easy for me to go down the dark hole of despair in a seemingly endless cycle of why me, so of course I have had to grow thicker skin. With each rejection I have felt myself getting stronger. I have grown through what I was going through and I have found a way to keep writing, to incorporate my pain into my passion and a few times turned it into profit. It has not always been easy but I’m learning and growing through it.
Here are a few tips that have helped me:
1.Don’t take it personally
The people behind the “no” don’t know who I am. They don’t know that I’ve been a storyteller since I could talk, or a writer since a crayon first touched my tiny fingertips. They don’t know where I grew up or that I started countless short stories as a child, or enlisted my friends to be actors and actresses in the short films I would make after my parents passed down a video camera to their budding young film maker. They don’t know about young broadcasters, they don’t know about film classes, they don’t know that this is the 5th damn rejection letter I’ve received and I could really use a break – like right now. All they know is what is front of them. All they see is the 5, 20 or 30 page script that sits in front of them amongst the other thousands of scripts and if it is not what they are looking for, then it doesn’t matter that I spent a week, a month or a year working on it. It doesn’t matter that there is no plan b for me because writing is not just what I do but who I am and it doesn’t matter that I spent my last $25, $50, or $100 to submit to them. All that matters to them is whether or not what I wrote fits with what they were looking for. So I can not take it personally because it is never personal. If you struggle with something similar you have to get out of your own head. You aren’t being personally attacked by an outside sources rejection, you simply are not right, not now anyway for what they are looking for and that is ok. When I first submitted to write for XONecole I didn’t even get a response back and for good reason, I simply wasn’t ready. A year later I resubmitted and now have several of my blogs featured on the site, many in constant rotation. When I first met Tyrese I barely could spit out what I wanted to say to him as he signed his book for me and rushed me out of the way for the next person in line. Years later I found myself getting paid to perform poetry in his home for him and his celebrity guests and close friends, eating an amazing dinner prepared by his personal chef, watching a wedding video, listening to divorce stories and helping Stacey Barthe wash dishes as she played me her latest song after he had left! Sometimes a no means not now and sometimes it may mean never, but don’t get caught up on it, because ultimately you have the final say so on how far your work goes. No one can take your grind, your passion, or your work ethic away from you.
2. Don’t run from your feelings
If I want to cry I will. If I feel like laughing I will. If I want to get down on my hands and knees and cry and laugh and pray and thank God, I will. If I want to write a letter cussing out everyone at the company that rejected me, I won’t. Ha, I’ve never let a rejection letter affect me that much, but if it works for you, write it then throw it out or burn it. I don’t ignore my feelings, I allow myself to feel them. It’s important for us to allow ourselves to feel things instead of pretending that we don’t have feelings at all. As a creative my emotions fuel so much of my work. Imagine being a poet pretending like nothing and no one could get to me. Can you imagine the bland, boring, non-emotion provoking poetry I would write? Even with storytelling if you don’t accept that you have emotions, use your own experiences and feelings in your work, how can you expect your audience to feel anything? When I get some form of rejection I allow myself to feel whatever it is that I am feeling. Sometimes I will laugh it off if it truly doesn’t affect me, other times I will allow myself to feel down for a short period of time then get back to work and use those emotions towards whatever I am working on. Just don’t lie to yourself. People can feel authenticity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing yourself to feel what you are going through in the moment, just don’t allow yourself to get stuck there. Nothing good and I mean absolutely nothing positive will come from that.
3. Just keep going
So what I got another rejection letter, J. K Rowling got 12 over a span of years! So what someone didn’t accept my fellowship application, Issa Rae’s didn’t get accepted either so she created her own webseries. So what I’m living writing check to writing check in pursuit of my dreams, Steve Harvey was homeless! You have to trust your gut. You know when you’ve created magic and you know when you have created any old thing just to put something out there. It’s important to continuously put our best foot forward and continue moving forward. If I were to allow a rejection letter to stop me from creating, it means I never wanted it that bad anyway, I never truly believed in myself. If you are willing to let another person tell you your worth, then what was the purpose in trying in the first place? You aren’t going to always hear yes and you shouldn’t. Every opportunity that you think you want is not always the best for you and truthfully you aren’t always ready to receive it when you think you are. If you truly believe that this gift, this talent, this undying passion you have is what you are meant to be doing, then why would you ever let another person tell you to stop? If it is truly the path God wants you to take absolutely no man can take that from you. Keep moving forward, keep creating, keep motivating and keep on keeping on. You got this!
I can’t let the opinion of someone else stop me on this journey because it is my journey to take alone and was written into my story before anyone else was. It may not happen today, tomorrow, next week or next year, but if you keep going and if God says the same, I promise it will happen. Now put on your big girl or (boy) panties or whatever on and get back to work! Your dreams aren’t going to work unless you do.
Love & light