Hey there folks. Lately, I’ve felt the need to share some words of encouragement in an effort to help those feeling fatigued by the pursuit of their dreams. I’m a believer that a lot of times in life, we as humans go through situations that really test us and force to either grow or shrink. Looking back on my life, I can recall countless experiences that have helped push me to evolve. But as I’ve gotten older, and I like to think wiser, I’ve realized that the things that have happened to me on my journey in life happened not only for my own benefit of growth, but also to help someone else. That is if I’m willing to open up and transparent (which is definitely not an easy thing to do.)
Having said that, please take this post as my attempt to be transparent with you all, my readers. If you gain perspective and knowledge about your own situations in life after reading this post, then I’ll be thankful just for that. The whole premise of this website is to help people after all. So without further ado, here’s today’s point.
Growing up, I don’t think I had become too accustomed to rejection. (Well outside the fact my dad wasn’t really around and I’ve never the paternal side of my family, but that’s a whole other level of rejection that requires a lot of unpacking, so let’s move on.) Since I was kid I was blessed in the sense that I had always made the sports teams I tried out for, I was elected for the positions I ran for, and I got into all the undergrad schools I applied to for admissions. Now there are were a few things I was rejected from, but it wasn’t until I pursued my career in writing that I would truly gain an Anderson Cooper 360 view of the concept of rejection.
For those that don’t know, my ultimate career goal in life is to embody the legendary authorship of a James Baldwin and the transformative onscreen story telling of Shonda Rhimes. I often tell people, I want my own Shondaland. And after four plus years of learning, writing, and hustling, I know I’m nowhere near achieving my dreams. I have a book (Majoring in Me: Acceptance), but it’s never been on the New York Times Best Sellers list. I have learned to write scripts and have a few, but not one is on television or Netflix. I also realize I’m not getting younger (not to be confused with I’m old, because I’m not LOL). This all becomes frustrating because I know how hard I work.
Between four years ago and now, I have heard the word no so many times and seen so many doors close or not even open. From script writing competitions, to dream writing jobs, to mainstream publishers and agents, my writing journey is paved by plenty of bricks made of rejection. You would think handling rejection would get easier, but trust me it doesn’t. Each no is like a gut punch, and as a result, I’ve wanted to give up chasing my dreams plenty of times. PLENTY!
I’ve found myself saying, “Lord if you wanted me to be this, then why is it this hard?” And, “screw this, I was never meant to be more than ordinary.” Heck if I’m honest, I’ve essentially counted myself as worthless in my lowest moments. (I know this is dark, but it’s real.) Now if you can relate to this 180 view of rejection, then stick with me as I talk about the back side of concept.
As painful as the sting of rejection feels, rejection has its share of benefits. Yes I said benefits. Because of the rejection letters, I can honestly say I’ve become a better writer. I’ve learned to push myself to become a person better skilled with the pen (or keyboard as the case may be). I’ve learned to better develop stories. If you allow it to be, rejection will be a great teacher in helping you to improve your talent.
Rejection has also taught me a great deal of humility. And truth be told, I needed it. I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and I’ve always thanked God for my blessings. But having not faced too much adversity, looking back, I think sometimes I thanked Him for the end result, but secretly took credit for the work. If folks are honest they can probably recall at least one time when that’s been their story. Believing they accomplished something mostly on the back of their sole effort and work. Anyway, now when my dreams start to become a reality, when I thank God it will be the most authentic version of praise.
Another thing rejection teaches is perseverance. For many people, the journey to achieving their dream is like the hill setting on a treadmill machine. While there are periods of a brisk walk on the hill setting, most of the setting is about digging in and climbing the incline. And while the incline is rough, the climbing is actually strengthening and toning your legs. In fact, the hill setting is doing more for you than a slow flat walk setting ever could. Bringing this back to rejection, when people tell you no or that you’re not good enough, but you keep trying, you develop this tough skin that you’ll need if you hope to make it to certain levels of success. The writing business is mostly subjective, not objective. If I crumbled with my first form of rejection, I’d miss out on my calling, and According to T would be nonexistent.
Oh and let’s talk about what rejection can do for faith. Man my faith and understanding of the Bible have really grown since pursuing writing. If I didn’t hold onto the promise that God has a specific destiny carved out for me, and only me, I don’t think I could keep pursuing my goals. I have to continue to believe that I’m still breathing because I’ve yet to fulfill a God assigned purpose. And again, while I have the low moments of self-doubt and self-loathing, faith in God brings me back every time. What’s funny, is that I now have a deeper understanding of and connection to Moses, David, Gideon, Joseph (it took a while for those folks to come into what God created them to be).
To wrap this up, let me point out that some of the best success stories are very familiar with the 360 degree view of rejection.
- Stephen King’s first and perhaps most renowned book Carrie was rejected roughly thirty times.
- J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before a publisher said yes.
- Jay Z apparently was turned down by every major music label before he became the greatest rapper of all-time (debatable perspective, but you get the point).
- Before Oprah became a household name, she was fired from a news show and was allegedly told she was “unfit for television news.”
Remember, as much as rejection hurts, it is more than a source of pain, but only if you allow it to be. So on your journey to become a famed novelist, or the next great actor, or a world renowned photographer, or maybe the golden voice of music, use rejection as a learning tool to get better. View each no as a method to toughen you up. If you need humbling, rejection will do that too. And if you’re a man or woman of faith, boy rejection can force you tap into another level of spirituality if you let it.
Any who, hope this helps somebody.