Dealing with rejection or how I learned to stop worrying and love the no

Picture me. Teenager. Freshman in high school. Talking to girl. Hormones flaring. Years away from knowing what a hail mary pass is and about to throw one.

"I...uh...like you."

Her eyes widen. She's taken aback.

"Um...wow...that was unexpected. I appreciate it. But...I mean I see you as a friend."

Freeze frame. I look down at the concrete and desperately wish it to suddenly give way and swallow me whole.

Resume time. I smile and give some awkward "haha nah it's cool haha lolz xDDDDD"  and move on.

The story repeats itself several times in high school. Sometimes my reactions are like that. Other times I am sent into a spiral of depression and shitty AOL Instant Messenger away message poetry/song lyrics and passive-aggressive MSN Messenger status messages.

Rejection.

As a teenage boy who liked reading, MMORPGS and was a huge all-around dork, rejection was familiar. It was also familiar because when I was a teenager I exhibited some downright embarrassing Nice GuyTM characteristics and I 100% deserved that rejection. 

Rejection is as part of life as getting popped in the face is part of boxing. It's going to happen. The first time it happens is arguably the worst, I think. When I enrolled in college and landed a job at the campus newspaper, I thought I was a big deal. Stellar writer, co-editor of my HS newspaper, writing was going to be easy like Sunday morning.

Turned in my first story, leaned back, and cushioned my ego with a cloud of smug.

An hour later, editor comes back and my draft is all red ink.

Freeze frame. Do I say to hell with this, I am better than my editor. How dare they? Or do I shut the hell up and listen to someone who knows more than me?

Resume time. I follow option B because I knew this was going to be a constant thing. Every story that was copy-edited was in many ways a rejection, but also an invitation. Try harder. Get better.

I did. I clawed my way up to being a sports editor and eventually netted myself some statewide recognitions that I wouldn't have earned had I not been told "what the fuck is this shit? Do better" one early August summer in the Rio Grande Valley.

 

Tim Duncan, the greatest basketball player of all time, spent his entire career (that involved championships in three decades) living by the quote:

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. 'Til your good is better and your better is best.

Having that experience made me stronger because every rejection was an invitation. I am at the point now where I just about crave rejections. God bless the broken road.

And that's where you want to be. Yeah, feel shitty the first time your first submission gets rejected. Wallow in the unpleasant feeling. Embrace it. Take your time. Then get back up. You are a saiyan and every defeat makes you stronger. Every rejection makes you harder and better.

Let's say you submit to 100 magazines over the course of a year and you get accepted in 5. I guaranTEE you're not going to be thinking about the 95 nos. You will be thinking about the 5 yeses.

Take the hits. Learn. Revise. Keep moving. Even if you're crawling you've still got forward progress.