I’ve been working in the creative industry for 11 years, which means I’ve faced my fair share of rejection. Rejection may become less frequent with experience, but it never ceases to exist. As bothersome as that is, it’s something I’m grateful to work for. Who wants to be guaranteed success? That takes the innovation and creativity out of an idea. I know some of you may disagree with me here but think of it similarly to pursuing a lover. If it’s so easy, it loses some of the appeal. It’s nice to have to put in the effort. It pushes us to be better versions of ourselves. Creativity thrives in uncertainty.
It’s also a good lesson to not get what you want. As much as it hurts, you learn from it and grow stronger. It builds resilience, which I think is the key to a long career as a creative entrepreneur. You can’t allow rejection to paralyze you. So how can you build your tolerance for rejection? Let me share a few tips that have been helpful for me.
It’s easy to characterize yourself as a failure or untalented when faced with rejection and criticism. However, it’s never this simple. There are so many nuances that influence an outcome. For example: maybe your idea, art, photo, writing, is not of someone’s taste at that time. You also have to consider timing, budgets, marketing. It’s not fair to you or your work to have a knee-jerk reaction and write yourself off. For me, putting these things into perspective when I share my work with others is helpful.
It’s also important to accept feedback. Not all our ideas are winners, and being receptive to feedback allows helps us to improve. Receiving critiques without defensiveness isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us. It’s like a muscle that builds strength. The more you practice it, the more comfortable you will get with the process.
I wasn’t aware that mindfulness influenced my creative process until a few years ago. Mindfulness helps you build your present moment awareness. It gives you time and space to notice your thoughts. With practice, you can learn to become aware of your emotions without turning them into a melodrama. You can see patterns in your thinking and the stories you tell yourself. It’s helpful to allow the thought to happen and then simply recognize it. You don’t have to go on a downward spiral.
You also must separate yourself from your work, which I find painful. For me to do quality work, I have to be so deeply involved that it becomes a fiber of my being. When you’ve put your heart and soul into something, it can be challenging to detach from it. But don’t allow the hurt or fear to keep you from moving forward.
Aim To Fail
Aiming to get a certain number of rejections a year can be a helpful trick to getting over failure. You don’t have time to wallow—you’re expecting it. Reframing rejection as an achievement can help you build the courage to get your work out to more contacts. It also forces you to reach out to people who may not have been on your list before.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you face rejection, and hopefully, you can fail better than you ever failed before.