Why my biggest year of rejection has been my best one yet

Rejection didn’t play a major role in my life until I started working for myself. I consistently received high grades in art class from, well… from when you can receive any grades in art class. This continued through college and university which directly impacted my creative self esteem and my ambitious dreams for the future.

I always thought (a thought I pushed to the back of my mind), that after graduation those grades wouldn’t matter so much and compliments from my tutors, friends and family about my creative ability would not be enough to build a career and successfully work for myself, which turned out to be pretty accurate. I’m sure this realisation happens to a lot of creative graduates and like most, it took me a while to figure things out. 

Fear of rejection can make your life stand still.

I wanted to freelance since I graduated, but it took me over a year to finally realise it was now or never. There are always a thousand reasons not to do something, being a freelance creative in Northern Ireland has it’s challenges but being a freelancer anywhere is difficult, so I didn’t want that to hold me back. I was scared of being creatively rejected. I put myself out there and do you know what? That’s exactly what happened. I did it over and over again to get clients, some said no (politely and some not so politely) but some said yes. As my ‘yes’ people have grown, more people are now aware of my services (apparently every client you work for will tell at least 5 other people about you). At the beginning it can feel very uncomfortable, but I really believe that the harder you try the quicker things will balance out. 

Everyone who chooses to put themselves out there will receive feedback, good and bad. 

Our brain can re-experience and relive social pain a lot more vividly than physical pain, so when you constantly feel like your being rejected, that feeling can and will linger, if you let it. I have learnt that rejection means I am trying my best to live the life I have always wanted. Putting yourself out there isn’t all bad, the more you do it the easier it gets, and makes people more aware of the service you provide. Even if they don’t need what you are offering - one more person knows what you do.

Putting yourself out there all the time gets easier…and it’s good for business. 

When I started getting more work, it finally felt like things were falling into place but there can still be quiet spells. I have learnt that even when I am busy, I still need to go to networking events and market myself on social media to keep those quiet spells to a minimum. As your business grows so does your awareness of what works and what doesn’t, really knowing your target market means you can put yourself out there to your dreams clients - rather than everyone and anyone!

If you believe there is a market out there for a service or product you want to offer but something is holding you back, figure out what (or who) it is that’s stopping you. You don’t have to flip your life upside down or quit your job to recognise if it’s worth the risk. You deserve to live a life doing what you love and it will most likely mean enduring some rejection, but I can tell you it’s totally worth it.

Photography by Emma Stewart Photography

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