Indeed it is. I mentioned briefly that getting laid-off is comparable to a breakup. The same can be said for losing out on a promotion, losing a game, failing a test, and on it goes. And the common denominator in all of this is rejection. I repeat, REJECTION.
Rejection is a raging bitch with horns. Even if you know it’s coming or even if you are prepared for it, it’s still demoralizing to hear or see it get confirmed. You’re basically told you’re not good enough to continue moving on.
My first experience with rejection came at 22. It was in a professional setting at my first proper full-time adult gig. It was an office that was made up of five people. So everyone knew everyone’s business. I was always the last to know anything – just like my layoff.
The reason was the down-sizing excuse, thus my services were no longer needed.
I wish I could tell you that I surprised myself with my calm composure, but the ugly cry face just couldn’t be contained. My eyes were drenched and my nose turned into a faucet of snot.
The signs were there, like secret meetings and C-level colleagues leaving for other companies. But my inexperience in the professional setting handicapped me. I pushed all the red flags to the side and convinced myself that I was over-analyzing something that wasn’t even there and that I should be grateful that I was employed doing what I love.
When I was sitting in the office of the CEO listening to him drone on, my mind was racing. I got really angry all of a sudden that my colleagues knew of my lay-off before I did. I had so many questions. When did they know? What were they promised in return for their silence? Where’s the loyalty?
When I packed up my things and was on my way out, not a single co-worker made eye-contact with me or even acknowledged my existence when I said goodbye. Was everyone too afraid of their own job security to say goodbye to a former colleague?
Of the five layoffs I went through (all due to loss of revenue and scaling down), I wish I could tell you that each layoff has helped me handle rejection better. For the most part, it has. But realistically, my confidence feels like it’s lit on fire with a high chance of burning out.
And last, I leave with you this tidbit from marketing guru Seth Godin:
If you’ve ever been rejected (grad school, an article submission, a job) you may have spent some time analyzing the rejection letter itself, reading between the lines, trying to figure out why you were actually rejected.
The thing is, there’s almost nothing written between lines.
People rarely say what they mean when they reject you. It’s just not worth the risk. Not worth saying, “I’m filled with fear about taking this sort of chance on you.” Not worth the blowback of saying, “you’re a miserable writer, the bane of my existence, and you will never amount to anything.” It’ll just come back to haunt them.
And of course, if you do read that sort of apparently honest screed in a rejection letter, it’s just as likely to be about the writer as it is about you and your work.
Make a pile of the thousands of rejection letters that successful people have received over the years and analyze them for insights and patterns—you won’t find much of use.
Short version: You got rejected. The words and the tone of the rejection aren’t going to tell you much, and every moment you spend dissecting them is a way to hide from the real work of making something that will resonate tomorrow.
If you really want to know why someone didn’t like your work, you’re going to have to put a lot more effort into it understanding the person who rejected you. Reading the tea leaves in the rejection letters and one-star reviews is pretty worthless.