I remember it well. Our assignment had been to write a speech about our greatest fear and read it aloud to the class. Student after student spoke, and after all the speeches were delivered, one thing was very evident in my mind: nearly everyone fears rejection.
I am no exception. I feared rejection just as much as the next person. Yet, this was a major problem for me. I was in one of the worst possible fields to have a fear of rejection. Why? Well, I was a writer.
I’ve loved writing ever since I was five years old and I have dreamed about being a published author for years. However, becoming published meant having to submit. And having to submit oftentimes meant being rejected.
Take my novel, for example. It’s a smallish piece of historical fiction that mixes romance with Greek myths with conspiracy theory. It took me over a year to both write and edit it, and then several more months to track down publishing companies that were accepting unsolicited authors (since I didn’t have an agent). It was a massive amount of work, and it translated into many sleepless nights since I am a full-time college student also. When the time to submit came, I wrote a seemingly unending amount of cover letters and sent them off. Then I waited. And I waited some more. Finally, after several more months, the letters came. One by one, they trickled in. And one by one, I was rejected again…and again…and again. Each time I ripped open a new letter, it felt as though my heart had been ripped open also. I had submitted to thirty publishing houses, and ultimately, I was rejected over thirty times.
Naturally, I became really discouraged and almost somewhat depressed, but my dad encouraged me to hang in there. It was later that month that, while I was checking my email, my gaze froze. I had a new message with the heading, “Contract Offer.”
I wanted to cry out or straight up cry. After six months of rejection, I was finally accepted. My novel, Labyrinth of Lies, was to be published! And as of December 2, 2013 it was released to the public. After fifteen years of dreaming, plotting, and writing, I am finally a real author.
Rejection is a part of life, but we can’t let it control us. If you have a goal, strive for it with all of your heart and don’t you dare hold back. Don’t stop just because you’re rejected. It’s true that we will probably fail a few times before we succeed, but we can’t let our fear of failure doom us to just that: failure. I feared rejection, but I learned something that helped. Fears are like shadows. Both are dark and both are scary, but neither can actually hurt us. They only have as much power as we grant them. Sometimes, the possibility of rejection isn’t a shadow. Sometimes, rather, it’s a very real possibility. Yet, through my own personal experience, I’ve found that the fear is more potent than the possibility of actually failing. Why? Because it’s just like a shot. Rejection only lasts for a moment, and then you move on. You pick yourself up and keep trying.
I learned something else too. I discovered the difference between goals and dreams. Dreams are good, but goals are better. Why? Because fairy godmothers are figments of fairytales and dreams don’t make themselves come true, but if we can set a goal and take steps toward reaching it, then maybe we’ll one day watch those goals become reality.
This said, we must reject rejection. Just how does one reject rejection? Sometimes we have to re-examine our motivations behind our actions. If our goal is to be accepted and well liked, it’s almost like giving someone else control over our lives. We can’t let other people rule our lives. We have to live them. And the only person who can reject your rejections is you.
So, if you have a dream stashed somewhere in your back pocket, turn it into a goal. Write it down, make a plan, and start working toward its completion. Unless you have some source of superhuman good luck, you will probably find yourself faced with many kinds of challenges, setbacks, and rejections, but you just have to work past it. People might think you are crazy—in fact, many of them probably will. However, they aren’t responsible for living your life. The responsibility for seeing your goal succeed or fail ultimately rests on you. So don’t lose heart and don’t give up, because someday, just maybe, if you keep at it long enough, the rejections will end.
Hannah Lokos is an author and a full-time college student (biology major). Her novel, Labyrinth of Lies, was released by Champagne Book Group on December 2, 2013, and is currently available on Amazon. You can connect with Hannah through Facebook, Twitter, or her website: www.hannahlokos.com.