What would you do if you know you couldn’t fail? It’s a common interview question, a script on many inspirational posters and a thing of our daydreams. Failure seems to be a huge deterrent from what we want to do, but I think, at the heart of it, what we are afraid of is rejection.
Think about it. How many times have you stopped yourself from chatting up a sweet honey, did not apply for a job or didn’t try out for something because you were afraid of a seemingly inevitable “no”?
There is something that cuts us so to the core about rejection. It’s a primal fear that hurts our egos, our prides and our confidences. Rejection, even through email or over text, feels somehow deeply personal and a credit to our character and skill set.
As someone with the world’s most forgettable face and who started out with little to no knowledge of how to show ambition, I faced a ton of rejection in my childhood and early teens. I was rejected from things left and right and told it’s not because I wasn’t as good, but they thought I wasn’t “showing my full potential.” It didn’t seem to make any sense to me, but I would quickly put a smile on my face and carry on again.
I had a voice teacher ask me if this constant rejection for seemingly no reason hurt me at all. She asked if I would much prefer to just be let into the musicals or singing groups or jobs that I so desperately tried to be and wanted to be in.
This, my dears, is a complicated question. Of course we all want our ego to be padded and I would love to succeed in everything that I try, but I look at people who have gotten seemingly everything they tried for and they learn nothing. They also face their first major rejection and crumble. That’s what makes the fear, my friends.
So, now I literally run happily in the face of rejection. It still hurts and definitely does not feel good, but I now have tools at my disposal to help me prepare adequately for both the task at hand and the possibility of rejection.
There are two important things you must remember when you may face rejection: one is the knowledge that you will live through this rejection. Unless an asteroid hits the earth the moment you get the bad news, the rejection will not kill you. It may make you want to eat red velvet cake and listen to Passenger and cry for a bit, but you will live.
The other thing to remember is that you have to face rejection to get to success or anything good. Chances are all of the things that you are most proud of had a chance of you being rejected. And you lived, you’re still here.
So, let’s not ask what we would do if we couldn’t fail. Let’s ask ourselves what we want to do and how we can do it.
Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis
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