Justine: Seeking Out Rejection to Overcome It

Are you sitting on your finished MS, dying-but-hating to send it out to the A-list of agents and editors you met at a recent conference? Perhaps you’ve signed up for a mentor program, but you’re anxious about putting your 60,000 word baby in the hands of someone else. Or, you found a great new critique partner, but you keep putting off sharing your chapters because “it’s just not quite right yet.”

You’ve got a rejection problem…or really, the fear of it.

Cue Jia Jiang, an entrepreneur and educator who formed an early association to rejection anxiety when he was six years old. Watch in this humorous TED talk as he explains how exposing himself to rejection for 100 days actually lessened the anxiety he felt about being rejected, and actually opened up opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have had. It’s a lesson we can all learn from (although I don’t think I’ll be asking for “burger refills” at the local burger joint).

What is your worst rejection moment? Your best? What lessons can you share with writers who are afraid to put their work out there?

3 thoughts on “Justine: Seeking Out Rejection to Overcome It

  1. Sounds like the type of desensitization program I need! Right now, I’m trying to desensitize vicariously by looking at famous people’s Twitter feeds, Instagrams and YouTube comments. Some people are AWFUL, and I am totally not ready for Seth Meyers’ Instagram comments — that’s some next-level shit, y’all.

    I also do a little Reddit, because everyone knows that Redditors are obnoxious (actually, they aren’t too bad in the little pools of subReddits I occupy), so it’s easy to realize that the nasty comments are about THEM, more often than not. LOL, I’m sure I do my part to help other Redditors with their desensitization programs, as well.

    I think this is a really important balance: learning to realize what rejection and criticism is helpful and can be turned to good use, and what R&C is just BS. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell. In general, if something bothers me two days later, it’s probably something I need to think about more seriously. Maybe “they” are wrong, but they’ve touched on something tangential that is true and needs fixing.

    • Certainly for me, rejection came often and early, and I’m not sure if it’s just because of who I am or what, but I learned to shrug it off.

      Growing up the target of mean-spirited bullying in junior high definitely helped me learn how to get over it. I was rejected constantly, always relegated to the fringes of the lunch table, teased, made the butt of jokes…you name it. (Is it wrong that I haven’t forgiven those girls for being such bitches? Someday they’ll be the antagonist in my story who gets their just desserts.) In any case, rejection was part of my daily life and I managed to survive. I think that’s why I’m not afraid to fail now. If I can get through the shit those girls put me through, I can endure anything.

      • I think for me, I went the opposite direction. I wasn’t the most teased kid, but rejection was a terrible cycle for me — rejected, I withdrew into my own head, was rejected more for being “weird”, withdrew further, and so on. I’ve blocked out a lot of it, but never really learned from rejection, I think, except how to entertain myself. I’m proud of you for going the other way!

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