Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it. – Chinese proverb
Right now I’m facing the point where I’ve been writing as a hobby for a while (I do short stories, poetry, and essays in addition to this blog) and I’m getting the itch to start submitting my work to magazines and journals. But what’s the the big obstacle standing in my way? That nine letter word known as REJECTION!
I admit, I hate the idea of being rejected (who doesn’t?). I think people my age may have had a particularly hard time dealing with it for one big reason. When we were little kids, participating in sports and other types of competitions, everybody got an award. Just for being on the team. Even if you pretty much sucked. While coaches, parents, and teachers might have thought they were doing us a favor by not distinguishing those who were truly spectacular and actually deserved an award or trophy, they really weren’t. Because it tended to instill in us this idea that no matter how bad you are, you deserve a reward for just showing up and being on the team. Flash forward ten or fifteen years. Many millenials struggle with the fact that they are required to prove themselves in order to get jobs or opportunities. No more just showing up and getting a pat on the back.
Growing up with this kind of philosophy may be part of my problem. But perfectionism is an issue for me as well. I don’t like doing something unless I know I can succeed. Unfortunately this has stopped me from pursuing many opportunities because I didn’t like the idea I may fail. With writing it’s always hard showing others my work because I’m afraid I’ll get laughed and told it’s horrible. But then I’ve realized sharing my work (or taking chances in general) is like getting a vaccination. Once you’re exposed to it you build a tolerance and you become immune to the disease. The more I allow people to read my work and the more I submit pieces to be published, the less I’m likely to be stung by rejection or criticism.
In my case fear of rejection or failure mostly applies to writing. But there are so many more areas where it can hold you back. A friendship or relationship can begin just by taking a chance and initiating conversation. Taking a solo trip may never leave the wishful thinking stage if you’re afraid to be alone in a different environment.
I suppose if things were easy it wouldn’t feel so good once you get what you want.
Are you afraid of rejection or failure? How do you deal with it?