December 1, 2016

The Power of NO

The Power of NO

One of the biggest obstacles for any creative person is the fear of rejection. Creatives put their heart and soul into each and every piece of work, whether it’s writing, visual art or other expressive creation.

With each piece, we cut ourselves a little deeper. We rip the protective layer off and expose our innermost selves to the world.

It sounds like a torment and it can be, because what if the world doesn’t like our work? What if the world says no or even worse, what if the world tells us our deepest fear: that we don’t have value? That our work is worse than awful?

What if?

And that fear quickly becomes a mountain that seems terrifying and insurmountable.

It’s a valid fear in one way. Exposing our squishy, innermost selves for the world to look at means being vulnerable in a way that is incredibly uncomfortable.

As humans, we have a need to belong. To be accepted. To have value and validation. Rejection just reinforces everything we’re afraid of.

But here’s what I know from putting myself out there: people are generally a lot nicer than you’d expect. And there are so many people out there, that the act of stepping up and stepping out is generally not immediately noticed.

Not being noticed gives a little breathing space to find your feet and catch your breath, because once you step out, you must step out again and again.

And then that too gets easier over time.

My favourite word right now is “anti-fragile.” I don’t know who coined it but it truly applies to the process of putting oneself out. Over time, and with practice, you become anti-fragile. And when things don’t work out, when the rejection comes, as it must, it doesn’t shatter or destroy the heart and soul.

After all, rejection adds strength.

I’ve been sending out queries to various geek and nerd blogs lately. Stepping up my game to the next level. It’s terrifying because I swing between wanting to be noticed and wanting to hide.

Generally I get crickets, but today I got a rejection email that truly made my day.

No, they won’t interview me because they don’t interview artists any more. But holy shit they love my work. The owner of this major site wrote some incredibly kind words about my art and my future success that really made my day.

I thanked him on Twitter, because I appreciated his words and he then retweeted me to his followers. All 114,000 of them.

Two years ago, that rejection would have hurt. Oh it was really nice, but still the NO would have made me pause. Today, I cheer. Yes, I got a NO but that response, and my response to it, opened a door I didn’t have before.

That NO was validation. That NO was strength. That NO is one more NO closer to a YES.