Dealing with rejection. Maturely. And sensibly.

A week or two ago I shared a conversation I had with my life coach Karen. I said that I was concerned about selling my business wares, unsure if it was ethical to be implying that I (ie. ‘lil ol me’) was the BEST person for someone’s writing/blogging/social media needs. It wasn’t that I didn’t / don’t think I can actually do (whatever it may be I’m offering), rather I struggle with the ‘why’ they should accept my offer.

I also mentioned the concepts of rejection and perfectionism and the fact that I (and many others) put far too much credence in others’ opinions or perceptions.

But… one thing I didn’t mention in the earlier post was something else I shared with Karen, in terms of how I’ve (lately) been dealing with rejection. At the time I was embarrassed. Ashamed. But only now am I realising (and being reminded) that we human beings are so so predictable. Most of the time.

When Karen and I talked about how I’d dealt with rejections in the past I struggled to come up with some examples. It’s not that I haven’t suffered losses or defeats, but few were memorable enough to dredge up easily. Well that, plus I rarely take chances and put myself out there… and when one doesn’t ‘try’, rejections are kinda minimal.

But I’d been feeling bad you see, because after a couple of recent rejections – not winning anything in a local writing competition; and missing out on a job which SHOULD have been mine! 😉 – I was pissed-off.

I was worried I’d become this arrogant, self-important person who was fooling themselves with delusions of their own infallibility.

“Those motherfuckers,” I was thinking – about those that ‘wronged me’. “I’ll show them…” I’d think.

Of course the usual Deborah was there, nipping at the heels of the cussing angry defiant Deborah, reminding me her that my her writing is probably crappy and my her CV / job applications are pathetic.

But the fact that I so quickly jumped to blame someone else was strange. Rather than be devastated the “Oh my god, it’s true; I’m crap. At everything” thought only popped very briefly into my mind before being tossed aside by really rational and mature thoughts about how – if I quit writing forever – those writing judges would feel really guilty and bad for not valuing my offerings.

I can’t really believe I’m admitting (publicly) to such insane thoughts. But… I was again visited by the you-bastards-don’t-know-what-you’re-missing demon yesterday.

I discovered I didn’t get shortlisted for a job I thought was tailor-made for me.

It had two major components (both of which were exactly what I’ve done for the past 10 years). Plus it was local-ish and I figured there couldn’t be a lot of competition in the region. Well, hmph! Bastards.

But, as I started to wonder what kind of depraved human being I’d become, some of my old undergraduate psych studies sparked somewhere in the recesses of my mind. Stages of grief. Stages of rejection. And so forth.

I seem to have skipped over the usual first stage – denial – and gone straight to ‘anger’.

So… I’ve been a bit comforted knowing, ‘it’s not just me’. Others experience this as well. I haven’t suddenly become some arrogant beast; assuming I’m fabulous and everyone should agree. No, rather it seems it’s natural to be angry at the rejectors. <Insert sigh of relief here.>

Sadly of course, the next phases are likely to involve some wallowing before acknowledging (what could be improved or changed) and bouncing back from the disappointment. Ahhh…. resilience. My old friend. 

How do you deal with rejection or disappointment? Do you often blame others or become angry? Or do you wallow endlessly? 


  1. I don’t blame anyone else, but do take it personally & tend to wallow. I also subscribe a little too freely to the if I don’t put myself out there I can’t be rejected school of thought.

    • I’m definitely with you on the latter. The writing comp I entered was the first time I ever put my writing ‘out there’. (Blogging doesn’t count. Of course!)

  2. It’s taken me a long time (probably longer than others, but who am I to compare? 😉 ) to get to the place where I see rejection as not rejection, but rather as another chance or opportunity. If someone doesn’t want what I have to offer, well, there will certainly be someone else who DOES want it…and when I think that way, I feel good inside, and then I take the appropriate action.

    • I feel glimpses of the ‘opportunity’ thing. I think I mentioned to you that when something else fell through I thought it meant I would be ‘forced’ to follow through on some of my business ideas and I felt a bit energised at that thought. But after the initial excitement my usual antipathy and fear kicks in! 😉

  3. Ooh – I’m a wallower. I immediately think that I’m not good enough. But then I read stories of people who were rejected over and over again – JK Rowling and Matthew Reilly spring to mind. They plugged on regardless and were ultimately rewarded. I’m not sure that I have their self-belief but it’s a good reminder that persistence can ultimately pay off.

  4. Rejection sucks. Sucks sucks sucks. In his book “On Writing,” Stephen King talks about keeping rejection letters for his writing – piles of them – to keep him motivated in his submissions.

    From being on search committees for new hires, I can tell you that a lot of the decision making process is arbitrary. You have to keep trying until you are the one picked, and then you aren’t rejected anymore! Keep at it, use those rejections as motivation, SHOW THEM ALL UP! xoxox

    • I’ve recently re-read ‘On Writing’ Julia and was reminded of how much I loved it. Plus it’s inspirational.

      As for the arbitrariness, v.true. One has no idea what they’re looking for. I put a half-hearted application in for some events person a few months ago and when I got feedback was told that they received so many applications (120+) that they only shortlisted people who’d previously had the word ‘events’ in their job title!!!

  5. Rejection.. Bloody hell I hate it!! I have a fear of it it all the time. I have an incessant need to get approval all the time. I wrote fan fiction in hopes people would read and tell me how wonderful it was (bahaha, ok that wasn’t true, I just wanted to see if ANYONE actually read it!) … Sometimes I laugh rejection off, but most of the time I get pissy and moody, for a lil bit… and then I get completely null & void and think f**K it… time to move on and do better then before…

    P.S I miss champers in the bath! lol #dryjuly

    • Hey there and thanks for your comment… Yes, you’re right – onwards and upwards. My mum would tell me that things happen for a reason.

  6. Oh I think I go through all of those stages. I definitely deny, get angry/blame and then wallow in the wallowing phase. It can be really tough. My husband was just going through this with looking for a job and he seemed to be stuck forever in the angry/blame phase. Hard to watch, when I wanted him to bounce back and see how he could improve. In the end he got a job and had 4 offers after the one he got, so it worked out thankfully. Rejection is tough! I always tell myself it is for the best and the better path is round the corner.

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