Most people avoid rejection as much as possible.
It’s a protective strategy and it’s one that’s easy to understand. No one likes being told that they’ve been unsuccessful or to feel they aren’t good enough.
But there’s something that is often worse, and that’s silence.
If you’ve ever applied for a job, you probably know what I mean. You spend hours sprucing up your CV or filling out an application form and you feel that mix of pride and excitement when you submit it. You allow yourself to imagine what it would be like to get the job.
Days go by, even weeks and you don’t hear anything.
The more time that passes, the surer you are that you haven’t got an interview. But until someone tells you for definite, you allow yourself to hope – just a little bit – that there’s still a chance.
I don’t enjoy rejection, but over a decade of applying for jobs and writing opportunities, and submitting my work to agents, publishers and literary competitions have numbed me a little to the pain.
Years ago, I’d probably have cried when I got the ‘sorry you’ve been unsuccessful’ email, especially if it was for something I was passionate about.
Now I shrug and move on. Sometimes it might sting for a few hours, but I generally believe that if it was meant to be, it’ll happen. If not, there’s another opportunity out there that will be a better fit.
But silence doesn’t allow you to go through that process. Sure, eventually you know you haven’t got the interview, or the agent isn’t interested in your work, but it’s much harder to forget about it and move on to the next thing when part of you is still waiting for a response.
And some people are just slow. For every company that doesn’t reply to job applications, there’s another that takes months.
I once submitted my novel to the open submissions window at a big name publisher and didn’t hear back from them for just short of a year, when they emailed to say that they’d enjoyed my manuscript but after careful consideration couldn’t take it forward.
It was actually a great boost to my ego, despite the rejection as I’d long forgotten about the submission.
But what it gave me was closure.
And that’s something that doesn’t come from silence.