I started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s book on creativity, Big Magic, this week during my long walks home from work. The audiobook is read by Elizabeth Gilbert herself so it feels like I have my very own personal, big-time author whispering inspiration into my ear as I struggle to make it up that last stupid hill before I reach my house.
The first chapter is called “Courage,” and as you can imagine from a chapter with a name like that it talks all about how we shouldn’t let fear dictate our lives.
As you might have guessed from my blog’s name, I’ve got a whole lot of fears. But I try not to let those fears hold me back from doing things I’m scared to do– whether it’s camping alone or throwing myself down an icy chute at 30 miles per hour.
But there’s one fear that I still can’t seem to get over: the fear of rejection.
Unlike my fear of ceiling fans (don’t judge), this fear has been realized more times than I care to recall. After all, I have yet to be decapitated by a ceiling fan (IT COULD HAPPEN), but I have been rejected a whole heap of times.
I’ve been turned down from jobs I really wanted.
I’ve auditioned for starring roles and ended up being cast as “Marching Peasant #5.”
And I’ve been rejected by boys. Oh, sweet golly, have I been rejected by boys! I mean, I’ve heard these words SO MANY TIMES: “You’re a sweet girl, but…” (And we all know what that “but” means, amirite?)
These rejections have hurt.
But, the thing is, they’ve never killed me. They’ve never even come close to killing me. Meanwhile, I’ve done a whole lot of things that could have killed me. So why am I letting a little non-lethal thing like rejection get in my way?
My fear of rejection has stopped me from doing the one big thing that I’ve always wanted to do: get my writing published professionally.
I can take being rejected for jobs and being turned down at auditions and having some dofus saying, “You’re a sweet girl but…”
But I haven’t been so sure I could take an editor telling me, “You’re a good writer but…” Or worse, an editor telling me that I’m a bad writer.
I’m cool with being mediocre in pretty much every area of my life. But writing? Writing is the one thing I’ve always thought I was good at. What if I found out that I’ve just been fooling myself this whole time? Just like how I’ve been fooling myself into thinking men find the way I break out into hives every time I talk to them attractive. (They don’t. Just FYI.)
But this week, thanks to a few personal, after-work, audio counseling sessions with Ms. Gilbert, I decided to bite the bullet and face my fear of having my writing rejected, and I submitted a story to my first ever writing contest. Oh, and it wasn’t just any writing contest — it was an audio contest, meaning I had to submit an audio-recording of myself telling the story.
So I faced two of my fears this week: my fear of having my writing rejected and my fear of making people’s ears bleed by forcing them to listen to my screechy voice for more than five minutes.
So I’m pretty sure Ms. Gilbert’s got to give me bonus points for that, right?
What has fear of rejection held you back from doing? How did you get over it?