The Emotional Strength of Accepting Rejection

Somewhat Gracefully

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on

My writing’s been rejected a lot. Sometimes, it wasn’t the right fit for the publication or they had something similar in the works that hadn’t been published yet. Other times, editors have said the writing was good, but they just weren’t interested at that time. And, I’ve been ghosted a very decent number of times too. The world of freelance writing, particularly writing like mine that skews strongly into the social commentary and personal essay realm, is a competitive market. I’ve chosen the hard road, like I’ve done most of my life.

I’m incredibly fortunate that I don’t rely on my writing for my entire income (I would be broke as a joke if I did.) I have a supportive husband and kids who encourage me all the time. Having all that doesn’t make rejection easier to take. It still stings and it’s discouraging. I know that, objectively, my writing is good, better than just good. It’s actually pretty terrific. I’ve been told this by people outside of my friend and family group, even by strangers. My writing style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea though. I write in a fairly conversational tone that doesn’t always jibe with traditional publications. That’s ok. My personality, outgoing, talkative, and exuberant, coupled with sarcasm and seriousness, has never sat well with some people, so it makes sense that my writing probably won’t either.

Lately, I’ve let the rejection get to me more. I’m definitely more hesitant to reach out to publications, even hesitant to publish things on my own website because I know that only about 50 people will ever read it. The fear of rejection is strong and will overwhelm you if you let it. Honestly, I was hesitant about even writing this piece because it sounds like self-pity and that’s gross. Oh, poor little privileged lady is getting rejected. Poor her.

“I’m good enough; I’m smart enough; and doggone it, people like me.”

— Stuart Smalley (SNL character created by former U.S. Senator Al Franken )

My life outside of writing is wonderful. My family is great, I have people in my life that I love and that love me back. I’m incredibly lucky to have friends that accept me as I am. I am generally a pretty happy person with a lot going for me. But, writing-wise, I sometimes feel sad. I’m not expecting tons of money or anything; I’d just like a few more eyeballs on my work and a little more money coming in (I won’t even bother telling y’all how much I made last month from writing because it was so little.)

I grew up with a badass working mom (she was a judge for god’s sake) and have a badass little sister who rules the corporate world in a way I never could. I’ve got a great dad who has worked hard all his life and a husband who does important things. I’m so, so proud of all of them and so incredibly proud I get to call them my family. But, my very modest readership sometimes feels like failure. None of them make me feel that way, it’s all in my own mind. I wish I could attribute it to jealousy, but it’s not. I don’t want to do what they do or have done.

I’m very happy with my little creative life, despite the lack of commercial success, and the feelings of failure that come in far-between waves.

I wanted to write this in case there’s anyone else out there feeling the same way. Just know that you’re not alone, you’re not a failure, and you’re enough. Wherever you are in life, feeling both self-assured and unsure is normal. We can’t let our fears overwhelm our courage. That’s what’s truly gross. Keep doing what you’re doing, keep learning, keep trying, keep doing your damndest in all things, big and small.


One thought on “The Emotional Strength of Accepting Rejection

  1. Well said. I think you reflect the feelings of many free lance writers and other creatives who believe in their work, love what they do, but just need to reach the right audience for their work. I read that Stephen King started out writing in his attic loft and he hammered an old iron nail over his desk to collect his rejection letters on. He hit 60 before he found an editor that recognized his singular talent. The only answer is to keep writing about things you know about and things you cherish and it will happen ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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