Indeed it is. The same can be said for losing out on a promotion, losing a game, failing a test, breaking up with someone and the list goes on.
I repeat, rejection is a raging b*tch with horns. Even if you know it’s coming, it’s still demoralizing to hear or see it. You’re essentiallu told you’re not good enough to continue.
My first experience with rejection came at 22. It was in a professional setting at my first proper full-time adult gig. It was an office that was made up of five people, so everyone knew everyone’s business. For the record, I was always the last to know anything – just like my layoff.
The reason I was given for the lay-off was the old down-sizing excuse, thus my services were no longer needed.
I wish I could tell you that I surprised myself with my calm composure, but the ugly cry face just couldn’t be contained. My eyes were drenched and my nose turned into a faucet of snot.
Looking back, the signs were there. The secret meetings and whispers behind closed doors, C-level colleagues leaving for other companies, and fewer assignments tasked to me. But my professional inexperience handicapped me. I pushed all the red flags to the side and convinced myself that I was over-analyzing something that wasn’t even there and that I should be grateful that I was employed doing what I love.
I was sitting in the office of the CEO when my mind started racing. I had so many questions. Why was I not told sooner and given the opportunity to look for another job? Was I the last to find out so I could keep doing the administrative work? Was I valued so little?
When I packed up my things and was on my way out, not a single safe co-worker made eye-contact with me or even acknowledged my existence when I said goodbye. Was everyone too afraid of their own job security to say goodbye to a former colleague? Or was I that awful of an employee?
Of the five layoffs I went through (all due to loss of revenue and scaling down – as I was told), I wish I could tell you that each layoff helped me handle rejection better. For the most part, it has. But realistically, my confidence feels like it’s been lit on fire and doused repeatedly with water.
And last, I leave with you this tidbit from marketing guru Seth Godin:
If you’ve ever been rejected (grad school, an article submission, a job) you may have spent some time analyzing the rejection letter itself, reading between the lines, trying to figure out why you were actually rejected.
The thing is, there’s almost nothing written between lines.
People rarely say what they mean when they reject you. It’s just not worth the risk. Not worth saying, “I’m filled with fear about taking this sort of chance on you.” Not worth the blowback of saying, “you’re a miserable writer, the bane of my existence, and you will never amount to anything.” It’ll just come back to haunt them.
And of course, if you do read that sort of apparently honest screed in a rejection letter, it’s just as likely to be about the writer as it is about you and your work.
Make a pile of the thousands of rejection letters that successful people have received over the years and analyze them for insights and patterns—you won’t find much of use.
Short version: You got rejected. The words and the tone of the rejection aren’t going to tell you much, and every moment you spend dissecting them is a way to hide from the real work of making something that will resonate tomorrow.
If you really want to know why someone didn’t like your work, you’re going to have to put a lot more effort into it understanding the person who rejected you. Reading the tea leaves in the rejection letters and one-star reviews is pretty worthless.