You'll Get Rejected Babe, but You Still Get to Choose
When I was 16 years old, my cousin and I wrote a fiction piece together. We were young Mennonite girls with the outrageous dream that we could be published authors.
We wrote the lines on paper with pen and pencil and sent a couple of our paper drafts back and forth to each other in the mail. When we were satisfied that it was done, we submitted it to a young ladies' magazine that we both loved to read. We spent a whole day taking our own photos to include with our submission, to illustrate the story that we wrote. We honestly believed it was the best thing we had ever created together. No matter what the outcome was, we already felt like winners.
That magazine rejected our story. Our dreams of being published authors fell flat.
After that early rejection for the piece that we wrote, we never stopped creating and dreaming. I don't think we ever stopped to think about it this way, but that rejection only fueled us to try again. Where others won't try because they're told it's not the right way to do it or not the right time or because they don't have a college degree, we try anyway. Call it naivety or call it bravery or maybe it’s a brilliant mixture of both.
Our naively brave and creative approach to life has brought us here. Today we’re building a lifestyle brand of leather handbags together, Urban Southern. Our story has been published in Southern Lady Magazine, Fox Business, and multiple other publications. Today we're published authors. We essentially have our own digital publication through our website where we write about lots of different things. (Maybe we’ll still write and publish our story in a book someday — something tells us that anything is possible.)⠀
Stop for a moment and think about where we would be today if we had let that one magazine rejection shut down our belief in what we were capable of doing? What if we would have let that rejection convince us that we're not meant to be writers, designers, creators, and dreamers? What if we would have stopped trying ideas and blamed our misery on a past rejection? People do it all the time. They listen to the voice of rejection and let it shape their perspectives, their desires, and their futures.
One thing we can count on experiencing in life is rejection.
Go ahead and look up the rejections that the most successful people in the world have overcome — do a Google search and you'll find pages of articles about people that have been rejected.
I get particularly inspired when I read about the rejections that successful women have faced. I often read the story of Elizabeth Blackwell to my daughter. Elizabeth received rejections from all 29 colleges that she applied to school for to be the first female doctor. This woman was a total badass. Even though she got rejected, she visited the schools in person to try to convince them to admit her. She was advised that she should dress like a man and pretend to be a man to get schooling, but she refused to be anything but who she actually was. She showed up, fully woman, to do what she had set out to do. As you know, she succeeded in becoming the first female doctor. Her rejections fueled her resolve. (Source)
Take Anna Wintour as another example. As the Editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour is one of the biggest names in fashion but while working at Harper's Bazaar as Junior Fashion Editor, she was fired after 9 months because her shoots were considered too edgy. She's recently said: "I recommend that you all get fired. It's a great learning experience." Today she continues to lead the fashion industry and has received awards for her work. (Source)
If you’re a Potterhead, you’ve just been waiting for me to mention, J. K. Rowling. She got rejected severely, multiple times over. She was fired from her job at the London office of Amnesty International because she would write stories on her computer instead of working. Her first Harry Potter book was rejected again and again before becoming a bestseller. She's now worth millions and was only bumped off Forbes billionaires list in 2012 because of the millions she gave to charity. (Source)
I’m my own success story, outside of what I do with my cousin to build Urban Southern. I was born Amish and grew up without access to educational knowledge like many of my peers. I can trace the many rejections of my past like scars that I now find beautiful.
I am an artist. But that wasn’t always something I felt like I had the freedom to say out loud.
When I was just five years old, I begged my dad for a set of paints because I already had a dream of being an artist. Being a conservative man with common sense, he looked at that request as being frivolous and denied my request. My childhood was a difficult one for many other reasons, but that single rejection stood out in my memory as a barrier between myself and my dreams.
When I was 22 years old, I walked into a store and bought a set of paints and started painting. I haven’t stopped. Last year I had to opportunity to paint live for a large spring gala here in Denver with the governor of Colorado in the audience. After my work sold, he told me that my artwork and my story had touched him.
I’m just getting started. I’ve done more live paintings since then and I continue to sell pieces of my work, as well. Last summer I painted a 27’ mural in Uganda, Africa. Uganda, Africa, ya’ll! It still blows my mind to think about it! The little Amish girl without any paints grew up and decided it wasn’t too late to be who she had always dreamed of being.
The worst rejections always shock you, but then they will show you that they can actually be used to fuel your dreams.
All successful people take rejection and use it as the fuel for their biggest dreams that come true later. I have come to understand that the bigger the rejection, the bigger the purpose of the dream we have that burns inside of us. The harder our dream gets and the further off it seems to be, the more we want it.
Today, be inspired to try again because you will never know what your dreams could turn into until you try them. Sometimes they are cooler than you think, and they usually change quite a lot by the time you realize your dreams have come true. Often, we miss an opportunity because we've let rejection tell us we're not worthy, not talented enough, not where we should be, or that it's too late to be what we could have been. Like it or not, we're the ones who have chosen to believe the lies.
The only rejection that can actually stop us is our own.
You might face a multitude of rejections everywhere you turn today. It could be a "no" to something you hoped and prayed for or it could simply be that literally NOTHING is going right. No matter what the rejection looks like, it's up to you how you'll respond and what you'll believe as a result of the rejection you faced.
You get to choose.
Decide right now that you won't get in the way of your dreams today. Decide that rejection will be fuel for your fire instead of a damper over your heart.