“Oh these little rejections how they add up quickly
One small sideways look and I feel so ungood…
Oh these little rejections how they disappear quickly
The moment I decide not to abandon me…”
- From Alanis Morissette’s “So Unsexy”
I was going to post this on my profession writer website, but realized that all of us experience rejection at some time or another, whether we’re writers or not. Just the other day in fact, someone close to me told me that I’m not that good of a writer.
In fact, over the years I’ve collected a list that would give Santa Claus a run for his money. Things like, “You think you’re good, but you’re not. You’re a poor writer. You’re just not that talented.” have once haunted me. And admittedly on occasion it still runs through my head during a particularly difficult day. Sometimes I wonder, “Are they right? Should I just give up?”
Here’s the thing. The more you venture out into the vast open land of possibility, the more you’ll open yourself up to rejection. When you do something outside your comfort zone, it makes others feel nervous and uncomfortable. They’ll start to wonder what’s wrong with them. Hence their reaction: They’ll try to keep you down, so they won’t have to feel uncomfortable around you.
Here’s what I’m not saying. I’m not talking about friends and family who love you and give you constructive feedback or criticism. I think it’s always wise to keep your eyes wide open and your ears as well. There’s always something you can learn from any situation.
What I’m saying is this: Don’t let other people sway you from doing what you feel is primal to you. Whether or not you’re good or bad, talented or not, you can still create the life you want. Give yourself the opportunity to see how far you can go without giving up just because someone told you not to.
Living life safe. Stability and comfort can be good things. But sometimes you need to reach beyond what’s familiar to get to your dreams. If I listened to the hundreds (okay maybe not hundreds) of people who deterred me from following my dreams, I would be safe, unhappy and stagnant. Not the kind of life I had in mind. I wouldn’t have move to California, traveled to Europe or start my own freelance writing business.
Think about it this way. Everyone has to start somewhere. So what if you’re not up to par with the greats, you’re sole purpose in life is to find the path of your dreams. And that path is made for you and only you. To get to where you want to go, you need to start from here. Here’s what I’ve learned: If you keep working at it, you will get better. I can say that my writing has gotten so much better in one year let alone the 20 years since I started.
After reading Walt Disney’s biography in Neil Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination (Vintage), I was first astonished by what the author called was an unexplained and unfounded confidence in Disney’s abilities at an early age. Even though he had no reason and no experience to be cocky, he was. Now I think, “Oh he got it!”
He had the passion that makes one think he’s going to change the world. It’s funny that in the end, Disney wasn’t doing the animation he started out with. In fact, a lot of his employees couldn’t really say what Disney did. But they knew what he was good at. He was passionate about whatever he put his mind too. And I’ve come to realize that this is key to fulfilling your dreams.
So go ahead. Be obnoxiously confident about yourself and your talent. If you won’t, nobody else will be. And who are you to do it? Well, you’re the one person responsible for changing your world.