It’s not you, it’s me- dealing with rejection


May 30, 2014 by Sian Rowland

Rejection is a part of life but in the freelance world there are lots of opportunities for rejection. Bidding for work is a necessary evil and means that freelancers are constantly picking themselves up, looking for the next project and moving on. Added to this I’m a writer in my spare time and as a hobbies go, it’s one that very rarely pats you on the back and says ‘well done.’

I’m terrible at handling rejection. I think it’s something to do with being a bit of a perfectionist but I’ve had to manage a fair few rejections recently and I really think I might be getting the hang of it at last. Here are my tips for handling rejection. Believe me, I don’t always follow them myself but I’m getting there.

Still going. Still independent.

Still going. Still independent.

  1. It’s not you, it’s me. The hardest part of rejection is not taking it personally. Rejection always feels personal. After all, someone is saying, ‘yeah, thanks but no thanks.’ I’m confident enough in my professional abilities to know that if someone rejects me it’s not because I’m not good at my job- I am- it’s because I wasn’t right for that particular project or they were looking for someone else. I recently went for an interview for a short-term post and- to cut a long story short- they chose someone else but I was fine about it. It wasn’t a rejection of my skills or expertise. They weren’t in question and I was able to look on the bright side. I would be able to stay at home (the post involved living away from home during the week), I could try some other opportunities and although the money would have been nice, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.
  2. Have a wallow. Rejection in whatever form does hurt and can feel personal sometimes so it’s good to acknowledge the feeling, wallow in it, have a weep and hide under the duvet for a day or two. It’s how we bounce back that counts. Or maybe not so much bounce back as stumble back red-eyed and snotty. But back all the same.
  3. Don’t give up. I’ve come close to giving up on so many occasions, especially if I get a snotty rejection of my writing (that always feel so personal whether verbal or written) but I try and remember why I write in the first place. I write because I enjoy it, because I get a real sense of achievement and because it’s my therapy in times of stress. If I gave up my writing because of someone’s personal opinion (even if they’re an expert in their field) I’d be punishing myself. I also enjoy my professional job. I often say that if the curriculum were a house with English and Maths in the sumptuously appointed lounge drinking cocktails, my subject area of PSHE would be in the flooded basement under six feet of stagnant water floating with bits of deflated old plastic footballs. I’m passionate about my subject however and although I will never be able to make a living through PSHE alone, I’m not prepared to give up on it.
  4. Try a different tack. I’ve been writing children’s fiction for years. I’ve had some success and tried sending out my latest book to six literary agents last year. I got rejections from two and didn’t hear back from three more. The sixth was an agent who had come to our writing group and asked us to send in our manuscripts. I got a particularly brutal response from him. It did make me rethink where I was directing my efforts and to try a different tack. I’ve put children’s fiction on the back burner for now and am trying lots of different types of writing. The same could be said for approaching freelance jobs. I’m trying different tacks all the time.
  5. Remind yourself how good you are. This is a bit count-your-blessings-hug-a-tree but it helps if I remind myself how far I’ve come, professionally and personally. Many people want to write books or scripts but haven’t yet started. Not only have I started, I’ve finished several! Lots of people would like to work for themselves but haven’t taken the plunge. Although I was pushed into self-employment through redundancy I’ve stuck with it and so far I’ve made it work for me.

So how do you deal with rejection? Any top tips?

4 thoughts on “It’s not you, it’s me- dealing with rejection

  1. I just try to get on with something else and forget about it then come back to it a few days later and analyse the situation with a clearer head..

  2. Liz Fisher says:

    I’m not sure I’ve got any different advice. I’m pretty bad with rejection. So much so I will avoid putting myself it its path at all and therefore avoiding the opportunity. Getting better though. I think not taking it personally is the main thing. You’re just not right for it, you’re not what they were looking for, your style is different, or even, you’re still learning. But it’s not rejection of you as a person, and you never know where that rejection might lead you.

    • Sian Rowland says:

      You’re so right, Liz. Even some rejections can lead to other opportunities (if you care to see the bright side!) I went for something recently which was totally alien to me. I did quite well but was ultimately not chosen but it led to meeting two new writing friends so always a silver lining! I’ll blog about it soon.

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