I submitted an article to Forge on Tuesday, but it took me some time to gather the courage to do so. I was afraid of being rejected and feeling like I wasn’t good enough.
I wasn’t just scared of their rejection, though. What if Forge accepts the article, but no one reads or likes it? I’m not only afraid of being told no, but of being ignored.
I don’t know why rejection is as terrifying as it is — because if you think about it, it’s not really a big deal — but it is. What’s pivotal, however, is that you never let it stop you.
I don’t care how deep my fear is. I don’t let it stop me because I know if I don’t take the chance, either I (probably) won’t get the opportunity again, or I’ll regret it in the long run.
That’s why every time I’m in this position, I ask myself five questions that help me push through the fear of rejection no matter how tight its grip on me.
1. What the worst that can happen?
Fear magnifies everything in your mind. However, if you take a moment to think about the worst things that could happen, nothing is ever actually that bad.
Let’s continue with the example of my (potential) Forge article.
I was afraid of being told the article isn’t the right fit. Another “terrifying” thing that could occur is they accept my piece, and nobody reads it. If people read it, there’s a chance they won’t like it. It could completely and utterly fail.
When you write down, or say out loud, the reasons you’re afraid, those possibilities lose their power.
That’s it? I think. So no one likes it, who gives a fuck? Just write another.
Make your fears smaller, so when you look at them, you realize they’re not as frightening as you believed. You can easily stomp them with your finger like it’s an ant.
2. Are you really not going to do this because you’re scared?
Fear is my biggest fear. I don’t ever want to be so afraid of something that I don’t do it.
I use this to my advantage, and you can too.
Lots of people stop themselves from taking chances because they’re worried about a million things that could go wrong. I don’t want to be that person, and I’m betting you don’t want to be either.
So ask yourself, are you really not going to do this thing because you’re afraid of rejection? Are you going to stop yourself because of a little fear?
3. How long are you going to wait?
If you don’t do the things you want to do right now, how long are you going to wait before you take action? Until tomorrow? A week from now? Next month?
The point of this question is to help you realize how ridiculous it is to wait because there’s no point. All you’re accomplishing is wasting time, and who knows what will happen if you keep waiting. Will there be consequences?
Don’t wait to be less scared or more prepared. Just do it now.
4. Will you be more ready tomorrow?
The answer is most likely no.
Tomorrow, you’re going to be just as nervous about submitting a pitch, asking the girl out, or applying to your dream job.
Your hands will probably shake no matter what day you choose because your fear isn’t going to go away.
Fear will always be there, so it’s up to you whether you’ll give into it or act despite it.
You’ll never be ready, so you don’t have a choice but to take the risk right now despite the outcome.
Unless you genuinely think you can be better tomorrow, stop waiting. But most of the time, it’s just fear trying to fuck with you.
5. What will happen if you don’t try?
If you don’t take the leap today, what’s going to happen?
Your article will rot away on your laptop. The girl of your dreams might find someone else. A chance will pass you by and may never come back. The job will go to someone who had the guts to apply.
What are the consequences, and are you willing to deal with them? Probably not. Why? Because consequences and the regret that comes with it hurts.
Think about everything you could miss out on because you refuse to get over your fear of rejection. Do you really want to miss out on those things?
If you don’t care — hey, that’s fine. But if you do, don’t give yourself the chance to feel that regret, and try.
One crucial thing you need to remember about rejection
Rejection has nothing to do with you. When you get rejected, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you or that you’re not good enough.
A couple of years ago, I read a book called Think Your Way to the Life You Want by Bruce I. Doyle, and his metaphor for why rejection isn’t about you is brilliant.
He said to imagine you’re standing in front of a table. On this table, there are four objects. The first is made of wood, the second of plastic, the third glass, and the fourth iron.
Now, imagine yourself holding a magnet. What happens when you move the magnet to the wood? Nothing. What occurs when you put it above the plastic? Nothing again. And what happens with the glass? Zilch.
But what happens when you move the magnet to the object made of iron? Boom. They connect.
Do you think the magnet rejected the wood, plastic, or glass because they weren’t good enough? Of course not. Their characteristics weren’t what the magnet was looking for, so they didn’t connect.
They weren’t an ideal fit. That’s it.
Whenever you feel afraid to take action because you don’t want to be rejected, ask yourself those five questions.
And remember, don’t let something as small as the fear of rejection stop you. Take the chance.