Actors have a saying: You don’t get 100 per cent of the parts you don’t audition for. If you’re an artistic type, or a writerly type, or even just someone who’s looking for a job, you may have found rejections to be so painful that you’ve just stopped applying for things. Social media and streaming TV is so soothing – why would you put yourself out there for stuff you aren’t going to get anyway?
Photo: C h r i s D i l l o n (Flickr)
But what if you set rejection as a goal? That’s what writer Kiki Schirr did at the beginning of this year: She resolved to get 100 rejections by the end of 2018 – to apply for anything and everything that interested her, even things that she thought were beyond her grasp, and to treat each rejection as evidence that she was pursuing her goal.
The first rejection rolled in on January 13.
I received my first rejection letter of 2018 yesterday.
The goal is to get to 100 this year.#100in2018
— Kiki Schirr (@KikiSchirr) January 12, 2018
But by the end of May, she’d tweeted that she might have a hard time reaching her goal – because so many of the anticipated rejections were actually acceptances.
At the beginning of the year, I made an oath to receive 100 rejection letters by Dec 31 so I started applying for tons of out-of-my-league opportunities.
But at this rate, I won't be able to achieve my goal
…because many of my responses are acceptances!
Take more chances.
— Kiki Schirr (@KikiSchirr) May 27, 2018
Now of course this a nice story because she’d having some unexpected successes. (I’m picturing some poor schmo starting the #100in2018 hashtag and on March 1 being like “… and that’s 99, and that’s 100. Done.”) Sometimes people have impostor syndrome because they’re, you know, actual impostors.
But if you’re suffering from undeserved low self-esteem, Kiki’s success story might knock some confidence into you – sure, you might get 100 rejections, but maybe, just from sheer luck, you’ll get 10 acceptances along the way.
Even though I don’t know Kiki – maybe she’s super-skilled in all areas and failure was never a serious option – she’s definitely made me re-think my whole approach to rejection. Is it possible to take the sting out of it, the sense that each “no” is a referendum on your worth? Maybe treating rejection as a pure numbers game can inoculate you against the agony of many tiny defeats.
So set a goal – for this month, or the winter, or the year, to get told “no” more. Once a few rejections roll in, they will stop being such a big deal. And then you can use that emotional energy for other, better things, such as writing or auditioning or polishing your resume. Or even setting bigger and better failure goals that, if you’re lucky, you just might fail to meet.