There’s a lot to learn from the #ShareYourRejections stories. Here’s how – and how long – you should stick it out.
Most of us can expect to hear a lot of “nos” before we get a “yes.”
In fact, people from all walks of life have been sharing their most painful professional brush-offs under the hashtag #ShareYourRejections on Twitter for the past few days. It’s been trending ever since BuzzFeed journalist Saeed Jones — who sold his memoir for six figures recently — shared that he’s been repeatedly denied by the annual the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont.
“I’ve been rejected from Breadloaf so many times I’ve lost count. It’s all good. Maybe facing rejection would be a little easier to take if we talked about it more. #ShareYourRejections,” he posted on Wednesday.https://twitter.com/theferocity/status/1029750272103473152
That’s drawn responses from the likes of Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, who was rejected from Yale three times (and went to Harvard and Georgetown in the meantime) before she was finally accepted to her ideal Ivy League school. She also unsuccessfully ran for office twice before finding renewed purpose in teaching girls coding and STEM skills.
Ran for office twice. Lost twice. #ShareYourRejections
— Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani) August 15, 2018
— Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani) August 8, 2018
Huffington Post and Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington, whose second book was rejected by 37 publishers, also weighed in. “After 25 rejections, I was broke and walked into a bank and asked for a loan, which, shockingly, they gave me. That allowed me to keep going for 12 more rejections. But, as they say, 38th time is charm. #ShareYourRejection,” she tweeted.
My second book was rejected by 36 publishers. After 25 rejections, I was broke and walked into a bank and asked for a loan, which, shockingly, they gave me. That allowed me to keep going for 12 more rejections. But, as they say, 38th time is charm. #ShareYourRejection
— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) August 16, 2018
Theater star Carrie Hope Fletcher (who most recently played Veronica in “Heathers: The Musical” in London) chimed in that she bombed her first adult audition before landing the role of Eponine in “Les Miserables.”
“In the acting industry, rejection is rife. For every audition I get, there’s a handful I didn’t! But if you give up after the no, you never get the yes!” she wrote.
1st MT audition as an adult, I was told my “voice isn’t strong enough”. I called my agent + said maybe I just wasn’t good enough. She said to persevere + at least go to the next audition they’d lined up. It was for Eponine in Les Mis…the rest is history! #ShareYourRejection
— Carrie Hope Fletcher (@CarrieHFletcher) August 17, 2018
They’re among a number of successful people who almost threw in the towel before having a breakthrough career moment.
Gal Gadot admitted last fall that constant rejection made her consider returning to law school to support her family before the role of Wonder Woman catapulted her career.
“I was as close as it gets,” the 32-year-old told “Sunday Today” when asked how close she came to giving up acting. “There’s so much rejection in this world that I thought, ‘Maybe it’s not for me. Maybe I should go back to law school instead of dragging my family with me.’”
After years of struggling financially, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz almost quit when his father-in-law pushed him to give up his “hobby.” His wife, Sheri Schultz, encouraged him to keep moving forward. Now he’s sitting on an $84.6 billion java empire.
Before taking Vogue by storm, editrix Anna Wintour was fired from Harper’s Bazaar after nine months. Similarly, before her reign as the queen of all media, Oprah Winfrey was let go as evening news reporter for supposedly getting too emotionally attached to stories.
“When things aren’t going right, the most important thing you can do is get feedback on what you need to adjust in order to succeed,” business management consultant Liz Bentley told Moneyish, adding that it’s important to find a mentor within your industry.
That means checking your ego at the door and asking the person who said “no” to you — a hiring manager, agent or boss — what you did wrong so that you can work to improve.
“It takes a little courage, but maybe they’ll tell you something to modify that you can turn it into a success,” said career coach Roy Cohen. “Ask yourself, ‘Can I objectively take something away from this? Is this feedback legitimate, or is it telling me I should try a little harder? Are you willing to acquire those skills?’ If you say no, then that means you really don’t want it.”
But don’t let rejection discourage you from trying for future opportunities. Studies show that our belief in whether we’ll succeed or fail influences how much effort we put into our actions. And the more we fail, the more impossible the goal seems to be. When this happens, take a minute to process your emotions and channel the negative energy into healthy outlets like exercising, writing or talking. “Do a little reality check. Speak to folks who have been in the same situation. How did you handle this? What were some of the steps they took?” Cohen said.
Criticism is difficult, especially when it’s not something you want to hear, but Bentley recommends running your project proposal, pitch, invention or monologue by a trusted friend or colleague. And track your progress and small wins over the course of a two-year period before giving up altogether.
When you feel like you’ve done everything, and are feeling physical signs of anguish beyond frustration, then it’s time to re-evaluate your goals. “If you’re losing sleep, having medical issues, your skin breaks out, you’re eating not for enjoyment, but as a way to relieve stress, take a step away,” said Cohen. “If you dread going into work on Monday, if you’re always thinking about work, but not thinking about it in a way that makes you feel excited, but overwhelmed by it, it could be time to push the pause button to find time to reflect and examine your intentions.
This article was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated with #ShareYourRejections.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved