Dealing with Rejection

If you opened up this post thinking that I was going to actually give advice on how to deal with rejection, then I've got bad news for you. I'm not very good at it myself. 

Which is basically the root of the root of the bud of the bud (to plagiarize ee cummings SHAMELESSLY) of the problem for me. I don't deal with it. But, you probably don't handle it well, either. 

As a writer, constructive criticism is important for me. It is important to hear the opinion of others when it comes to my own art. How is it being received? How does it make people feel? But, sometimes, what people have to say doesn't feel very good, and very isn't all that valuable.

Growing up, I hated criticism. Of any kind. Even if it was a professor telling me I needed to cite more sources in a paper, I took it as a personal insult. As if they were saying I was flawed, rather than the paper. Like there was something wrong, or bad, or shameful about ME, and not a small hiccup with something I produced. Feeling rejection is normal, taking criticism badly happens to almost everyone, but the way I was receiving it was not healthy.

But honestly, some of the feedback I have gotten from my books has really changed my tune. I never imagined that mean comments could bring me so much peace, but they have. 
Now, if I am coming off as over-dramatic, it's because I am. But, honestly, I don't get very much negative feedback. In general, I am fortunate in the response and support of my readership. But, the not-so-positive rankle me. At first I would sit up at night and wonder if I was wrong to be writing and if I was kidding myself with my dreams. Even if it was one not-so-stellar review in every ten. 

But soon, I realized something. Actually, I realized a few somethings. First: Not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone is going to think my writing is good. Just as not everyone thinks that Charles Dickens is a master of storytelling or that Kurt Vonnegut changed their life. Not everyone will approve of what I do. And that's FINE. It's a cliche type of sentiment, but I find that it takes a lot of time and reflection to really accept that not everyone is going to admire your hard work or style. 

Secondly, some people like to review just because they like to criticize. It is much easier to sit on the safe side, critiquing other people's hard work,  and not creating your own. It is easy to pick out what is wrong with anything. But much more interesting to focus on what is right. Whether it's a vacation or a movie, a book, or a relationship...fixing your eye on the flaws is much simpler than searching out the positives. It seems to be a feature of our society in fact, that we all want to be the first person to tear something apart. The first person to disapprove of so-and-sos new album or this celebrity's new nose or whatever. How pointless.

That is not to say that I don't use constructive criticism at I actively search for it now. But the keyword is constructive. I look for people that help make me better, than want to build my work up, not just tear it down or point out a feature they don't like. 

So, long story long, I have been dealing with rejection lately by not letting myself feed into the negativity surrounding me. I focus on the people who tell me they loved my work, or that something I wrote resonated with them and gave them strength, courage, happiness, sparked their imagination. 
I have been working on my own tendencies to be negative as well. Sometimes I will finish reading or watching something, and I think about all the holes in the plot, or things that didn't make sense...and then I stop. I think, "Did I enjoy that? Did it make me feel good? Did it make me think or give me an escape?" If the answer is yes, then I don't bother with its merits or flaws. I don't worry about critiquing it, but instead, just profiting from a pleasurable experience. 

My best advice? Accept rejection as something that negative people do. An activity that other people thrive on. Try instead to embrace positivity, creativity and any experience that brings you any modicum of happiness. The world needs more acceptance. Be part of it. 

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