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  • Writer's pictureSL Eastwood

How To Stop Fearing Rejection

Updated: May 11

Not being ’chosen’ really hurts. But rejection isn’t a bad thing, just a bad match…

Rejection is a fact of life. In both small ways and big ways the world is full of it. We learn about it from a very young age. Not being chosen for the popular crowd, getting picked last in gym, not making it into your first choice university.


Then, you don’t get chosen for the placement you applied for and have to spend the summer back at home like a total useless loser. You don't get an interview for that job you really wanted and get ghosted by a person you thought you might spend your life with.


If you made the stupid choice to become a writer it can feel like those rejections are on steroids. You get rejected from basically every creative endeavour you get in to. It's like you're always begging people for a chance only to be confronted with a big fat "No".


The unfortunate thing is, if we internalise these rejections, it can hold us back from going after the things we really want. This often leads to us pre-rejecting ourselves due to the assumption that our chance is so low that it isn't even worth the effort to apply.



What are we so scared of?

Not going after the things we want for fear that we're not good enough is the quickest route to end up with absolutely nothing. How many times have you seen someone and thought they seemed under-qualified for the job?


But they still got it, so why can't you?


You don't know the things you're right for until you apply and find out. Once I got a job at a technology company purely because of my background in film... the role was administrative. You have no idea what unique talents will score you the gig, so just go for it!


We're taught to think that rejection is this terrible thing, but what if we looked at it differently? Rejection isn’t this personal affront we’ve made it out to be. A rejection doesn’t necessarily have to say anything about us or the person or thing that rejected us.


What if we looked at rejection as par for the course of being a go-getter? What would happen to us if we stop fearing rejection altogether and just did it anyway?


Now, you might be thinking...

“How could rejection possibly not be personal? If they thought I was good enough they would have chosen me.”

Being chosen isn't about being "good enough" it's about being "suitable" for the project, position, relationship, whatever it was you're going after. Being incompatible doesn't say anything about you, or them, it's just not a good match of skills or personality. No biggie.



Let's reframe the situation

I think this idea of rejection being personal comes from a scarcity mindset of...

"This thing I want is my only option and if I don’t get it then I’m a failure!"

When really we should be thinking of rejection as an excuse to explore new avenues. It's a redirect that's designed to nudge you towards what you're meant to be doing. Why see it as "you're not good" when you could see it as "this isn't the right path"?


Fear of rejection, when you really boil it down, is fear of a lack of control. I NEED this person to like me, I NEED this job to hire me, because I’ve set my sights on it and I don’t know what else to do.


I’m a true believer in the idea that things that are for you will be for you. Not in a "we’re all living in a simulation and freewill is only an illusion" type way, but that the things that are truly meant for us will come naturally.



I’m not advocating for taking rejection lying down. Not all rejection is positive.


Sometimes we’re rejected because others want to keep us down. Sometimes our potential scares them and so they reject us to knock us down a peg. We need to understand the difference and keep going.


How to move forward

Rejection of any kind can be considered a course correction.


Just because you were rejected this time, it doesn’t mean you always will be. It might mean you need to pull up those socks of yours and improve something about yourself. Are you setting your sights too high without doing the necessary work to earn the opportunity?


I did this a lot in my early writing career. If someone didn’t like my work, or didn’t give me an opportunity purely because I turned up and thought I deserved it, I took it incredibly personally.


But it wasn’t personal...I just hadn’t earned it.



What is your rejection telling you about yourself? Is it saying you need to try harder to reach your goals? That you need to take a lower paid entry level job to gain the experience you need to get to the career you actually want?


Can you honestly say you are the best possible version of yourself? Maybe you need to work on that instead of focusing on what you think you are owed by someone else?


If we see rejection as a sign that we need to look inward and correct something then we can see it more objectively. Not like we’re permanently broken and unable to get the things we want from life.


Rejection isn’t a done deal. It’s not a final state. You will work harder and get the acceptance you want or it will open a door to another opportunity. Keep looking for the right match. You will eventually find it.



 

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