What To Do When You Bare Your heart And Nobody Shows Up.
Two weeks ago, I published a post that revealed something extremely close to my heart and the response has been, wait, I’m trying to find the words for it. Right, spectacularly underwhelming.
If you’ve taken a leap and put a part of yourself out into the world and shared something you truly care about — a piece of writing, art, an idea — then you know what I’m talking about. On the other hand, if you’ve been sitting on an idea then perhaps this condition is what you fear the most.
What to do when you bare your heart to the world and no one shows up?
This is my response.
The World’s Most Important Flowchart For Dealing With Rejection
according to me*
Why All Roads Lead to → Move On
Rejection happens. Even to the best of us. Sometimes, rejection isn’t so straightforward. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen all at once in a single moment, but it’s spread out over weeks, months, even years.
People will tell you not that it’s not personal (and it isn’t) but like all advices in life, it’s easier dished than practiced. It’s challenging not to take it personally when the work is personal.
But if it makes you feel any better, Walt Disney was fired from a local newspaper. Apparently he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” LOL.Abraham Lincoln endured a steady stream of rejections becoming President of the United States. That list is so painful I have anxiety just from reading it. JK Rowling was rejected 12 times for Harry Potter and told “not to quit her day job.” Harry Potter! The travesty!
But rejection is a part of life. It’s inevitable. It sucks and you might never get used to it. But how you respond to rejection can make all the difference.
Before we go on, for all of you who have put a part of yourself out there.
Turning Rejection Into Appreciation
Think of rejection as a hangover. The part where you get to make something and express yourself is the fun part. The night before. Rejection, on some level, is just the small price you pay for the amazing time you had last night.
Next time, instead of saying to yourself “I failed. I’m lousy.” try saying “Oh wow, great, I just succeeded at finding out one way that doesn’t work.” Rather than feeling rejected, try taking the time to appreciate how lucky you are for having the chance to express yourself.
Maybe you think it’s silly. But in life, we get to keep what we fight for. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last five years is that if life is a journey, then it’s important that we learn to find happiness in the journey.I had to learn this the hard way. Somewhere along the line, it became so painful that I asked myself “Am I making it harder for myself?” Spoiler alert: I was.
Make Yourself Happy First. Now.
Look, if our paths never cross again after this (I don’t know, maybe the pigeons I screamed at came back with their gang and abduct me) then I want to leave you with one thing. This one thing is so powerful that if you truly internalise it you’ll achieve instant happiness. Right now.
Focus on what you can control and ignore what you can’t.
The most profound wisdoms are often couched within simple truths in plain sight. Don’t chain your morale and identity to “likes, up-votes, and claps.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy how the piece turned out, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed. They are not mutually exclusive. Of course I want my work to resonate with others. I’m not putting my work out there for ants. Wait, is this the universe where they can read?
My point is external validation should be nice-to-haves, not must-haves. The only must-have is staying curious enough to find yourself, then being courageous enough to be yourself.
Play the long game: Always make yourself happy first.
Why Try Again
Here’s a hard truth: Most people are interested but not committed. A lot of people give up after being rejected. I don’t blame them. Rejection can be a tough pill to swallow. Who even likes swallowing pills in the first place.
In the end, your character is defined by what you do, and no action speaks louder when you do it when no one is paying attention. When no one is holding you accountable except yourself.
So, if something is stirring within you. If you have something valuable to say about something that matters to you then you might as well take a chance and express yourself. The world is shaped by creators. Always has, always will.
This is what I will keep asking of myself and what I’m asking from you: Show up, move on, try again. Do that while I go while I excuse myself to explain to my ant overlords for that insensitive comments.
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Special thanks to Dora Visky for helping me to design the flowchart.