It's Not You,
It's Me

By Renata Leo

Rejection isn’t fun.

As a creative person who generally got good grades and lots of accolades when I was younger, I got used to a certain amount of success. Hell, in the 3rd grade, I had a breakdown over getting a D on a test. At the ripe old age of 26, my friends still talk about it. When we graduated from the 8th grade and made a video of memorable moments from each year we spent together, this breakdown was voted the most popular memory from third grade.

Funny memory or tell-tale sign that I would one day deal with crippling anxiety and stress over things so much that I will eventually die from a heart attack at a ridiculously young age? Pot-ay-to, pot-ah-to!

This all to say: I did not deal with rejection much as a young person. I didn’t start dating until my twenties, adults trusted me because of my grades and general responsibleness, and I didn’t take a lot of risks. My first time facing rejection was when I started hearing back from colleges and was rejected by the ivy league schools I had applied to.

This first brush with rejection left me feeling vengeful. These schools would pay. Nothing violent or crazy or anything, I just figured I wouldn’t even apply there when going for my PhD and once I became famous and successful, they would be sorry they weren’t attached to my name and my fame.

Oh, Young Renata. So full of dreams, ambition, and the energy to do anything but sit on the couch and eat your feelings.

Coming into adulthood, I’ve had to deal with the very normal rejection from potential employers who are looking for a profile that I can only very succinctly describe as “not-me.” Eventually I got an interview at the same company where my dad works, and while I’m grateful for the opportunity, I’m also aware every second of every day of the role my dad played in the process. Hello imposter syndrome, my old friend.

Since I knew that I couldn’t possibly maintain a personal vendetta against every institution that rejected me (and since most therapists don’t want their clients walking out of therapy thinking that the right response to rejection is to turn into The Joker), I’ve since learned how to better deal with rejection.

One thing that has really helped me to prepare myself for rejection and make me feel more comfortable with it is freelancing. When applying for college or a full-time job, applications are long-winded and meticulous. You’re writing the most eloquent cover letter possible, asking for letters from references who have seen your best work, and researching the newest resume formats. Rejection means so much more when you spend hours slaving over an application, only to have it rejected without so much as a phone call.

As a freelancer, I submit up to 10 applications a day. I try to apply for every opportunity that sounds remotely interesting and can fit into my schedule. Not everything is a perfect fit for my skill set or my interests, but I’m always excited to get involved in something new and to get to know a new client, so I like to take a chance on various opportunities.

Since I put out so many freelance applications, I have a pretty standard cover letter that I use. While I try to make them as personalized as possible, most people looking for freelancers put very little information into their ads, so it can be difficult to tailor each cover letter to the client. When you’re pumping out applications so quickly, you get very used to rejection. Out of all of the applications I have completed for freelance opportunities, very few of them have ended in a job offer.

More often than not, individuals are hiring freelancers because they don’t have the time or bandwidth to support their company on their own. Unfortunately, this can also mean that they don’t actually have time to vet freelancers! So most of my applications are never seen nor answered. A good number of them are answered, but even after terms are negotiated, I don’t hear from the client again.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’ll submit an application for a freelance opportunity that I know would be a perfect fit for me, and be super bummed when I am rejected. But when you’re getting rejected for jobs every week, you can’t let it get you down. At this point, I am able to face these rejections with a shrug. It just wasn’t for me! Something else will come along. This is 2019 — there is no shortage of people who need bloggers!

Nowadays, I have been putting this new attitude about rejection to the test. I have been sending out posts to larger publications to see if they like my writing enough to put it on their site. As of right now, I have been getting rejection after rejection. Each week, I’m opening my email to another “We regret to inform you…” As much as I expect every rejection to crush me, I find that I’m able to get through them without breaking down.

I have faith in my work and in myself. After every rejection, I dust myself off and send the piece off to someone else. Maybe the piece wasn’t right for them, but could be for the next publication! I’m not afraid of rejection anymore. I now see every rejection is a new chance to strengthen my resolve and feel more confident in my writing.

Rejection is just another part of the creative process. It may not be my favorite part, but at least I know that I can face it without completely breaking down or becoming a vengeful psychopath.

Renata Leo

Just an open-minded, overly-sensitive, optimistically cynical feminist millennial who secretly prefers chestnut praline lattes to pumpkin spice lattes.

Stay inspired
throughout your day.