I have been rejected.
By men, colleges, jobs, acapella groups.
I have stuck some part of me out into the world. And the world returned it to sender.
Leaving me with a deep, dark bruise. That makes me want to retreat to my Hobbit Hole and never risk another bruise. And in that moment of retreat, I surrender part of my self-worth to the views of others.
But if we did that for every rejection, the world would be swamped with white flags.
Because at any moment, people are getting sacked, dumped, voted out, kicked to the curb.
When actor Steve Martin decided he also wanted to be playwright Steve Martin, Variety wrote of his debut effort:
“[The play] is done in by superficial stabs at character development, the absence of a coherent, compelling storyline and a coarsely directed production that merely emphasizes the work’s faults.”
Feeling rejected? You’re in good company.
The company of adventurers and stuck-their-neck-out-ers. Of those who respected themselves, their work enough to put it out into the world.
And when the world didn’t value them or their work, they kept on going. And kept the white flag in storage.
Steve Martin put it like this to GQ:
“After one of my plays came out, I had mixed reviews, some bad and some good. One day, it dawned on me. I thought, ‘I wrote a play and [the critic] wrote a review, and that’s the difference between him and me.'”
You did something, you tried something, you made something, you loved someone. And that takes guts. The kind of guts that can’t be annihilated so easily.
Rejection knocks us down, but not out.
And we get off the ground a bigger, wiser version of ourselves. A version that knows taking the risk outlasts getting the rejection.