• Catherine Goncalves

Rejection Muffins

Hi Eric.

I have a couple of things to say to you

1. Ow.

2. Thank you.

Who is Eric you may ask? Well, he’s my professor and the source of my latest challenge in life- facing rejection. (All jokes aside, he’s a really incredible professor, and I’ve enjoyed his class more than anything).

A few weeks ago, he handed out bingo cards in class, which was all fine and dandy until I took a look at what was written on them. It wasn’t just any kind of bingo it was REJECTION BINGO.

Over the course of the next two weeks I had to put myself in uncomfortable situations where I would be rejected.

Here’s a little look at what that score card looked like:

Here’s an accurate representation of what getting that card felt like:

But while this challenge was painful, I came out of it appreciative of what it taught me.

Yes, rejection sucks. Especially when it’s something you care about being rejected. As a creator, this is something I frequently struggle with. And by no means am I an expert on this topic, but the advice I would give a friend going through the same thing is this:

1. The world needs your blueberry muffins.

You can’t please everyone – Seriously. WAY easier said than done. But we can think about this a little more simply. If I am the world’s best baker, up there with Betty Crocker herself and I make the BEST blueberry muffins, that won’t change the fact there will be people out there who just don’t like the taste of blueberry muffins. No amount of perfecting my technique, or altering my recipe is going to change their opinion. Yes, we can cater to meet people’s specific tastes (by making carrot muffins (is that a thing?)), but in doing so we lose the authenticity that makes us unique, and the world loses out on the best blueberry muffins.

2. The fear of rejection holds you back in ways you wouldn’t expect.

If you’re getting rejected- you’re doing something right. Puzzling right? But instead of viewing rejection as something that means I’ve failed, I’m learning to see it as evidence of me pushing a boundary. About a month ago I was reaching out to dozens of brands everyday to shoot content for in Iceland, and while I must have gotten 100+ rejection emails, the 11 clients I did land changed my entire trip, and I am so grateful for the ones who took a chance on me. I realized the thing stopping me from getting the clients I wanted was the fear of being rejected. They may ignore you, or they may hire you. And that possibility was worth putting myself out there.

We can get caught so consumed in the fear of being told no, that we forget to be excited by the prospect of the possibility of the what happens when we hear the word yes. While my challenges for this class weren’t these life altering decisions, I had the ability to speak with people I otherwise would have gone my whole life not knowing. The friends I hold dearest, the dream jobs and clients I imagine working with could be on the other side of a conversation I strike up when I learn to acknowledge my fear of rejection and then tell it to take a hike.

3. Wait who?

Don’t take it personally- this is the one I struggle with the most, and frankly feel hypocritical writing advice about. While I openly ask for feedback on a lot of work I submit, and subject myself to criticism to help grow, I sometimes have a hard time distancing the feedback on the work I do from who I am as a person. Yikes, right? But I know I’m not alone in doing this.

Does anyone remember the name of the villagers that told Belle from Beauty and the Beast that she shouldn’t search for adventure in the great wide open and follow her dreams? (this is the part where I imagine you saying no) Me either! So we need to stop acting as if the people who reject us are leading characters in the narrative of our lives rather than extras that help us on our own journey (sans the musical numbers).

Final thoughts

Rejection is tough, but our reaction to it is a muscle we must exercise. We can't ever control someone's opinion, but we sure as heck can control how we respond to it, and whether or not we let it define us.

If you have a rejection story you'd be willing to share, I'd love to hear it!