🌻 How to grow from rejection (and help others do the same)
Why sharing isn't just caring—it's cathartic
Happy Wednesday, I hope you’re having a wonder-full week.
I cried over a $4 shower caddy on Sunday.
My day had been sunny and blissful until that moment. I was kicking goals on my to-do list setting the pace for a productive week ahead. You know those tiny household tweaks you make that no one else notices but instantly add more flow to your day?
For me, that meant a floral arrangement in my kitchen and lining my cupboards with shelf paper that taunted me with air pockets no matter how slowly I went—the worst. After that, it was onto what I thought would be the easiest of all: hanging a shower caddy to stylishly house my bath and shower products. But hell, it didn’t fit.
I wrestled with the shower head and cable and considered alternative approaches to shower caddying—like hanging it on the shower rod (desperate times). But eventually, I took an exasperated breath, accepted it didn’t fit and shed a few tears in mourning.
If that sounds like an overreaction, it’s because it is. It wasn’t about the shower caddy—it was about what its ill-fit represents. And to me, that’s rejection.
My 3 big rejections as a first-year solopreneur
I’ve spent the past eleven months working hard as a solopreneur. And while I’ve been blessed to work with trailblazers in the online course space, I’ve also experienced a lot of rejection. So preparing for year two by reflecting on year one can be as painful as it is prideful. But—since writing is cathartic—here’s a walkthrough of my three biggest rejections with lessons I’ll apply going forward (in hopes they help you too):
🗄 Rejection #1: The bureaucratic blocker
What happened: In March, a university offered me a $25K project I was perfect for. It was only meant to take three weeks but I budgeted a month and turned down other projects to make it a priority. The contract was signed and I was hyped to get started. But then an insurance requirement derailed everything (to make a long story short: Quebec has a different legal system than the rest of Canada and since the university is in another province I needed to adjust my policy and couldn’t get it done fast enough).
Lesson: Carefully review contractual requirements before you turn down other projects. When I suddenly found myself with no paid projects on the horizon for April, I realized I could either agonize behind my computer or step up my game and connect with prospective new clients in person (which amplifies relationship building). So I went to an education conference in San Diego and Miami Tech Week a couple of weeks later.
I was stressed about spending money when I potentially had none coming in for the next month—but before I even landed in San Diego I had several startup founders reach out through the event app about projects they needed help with. I wound up signing on for a two-week project for $10K and made up the other $15K shortly thereafter. Plus I met a bunch of incredible people I’m looking forward to seeing again next year.
🌟 Rejection #2: The FOMO-driven flop
What happened: In February, I was invited to apply for a role with an industry-leading company. The problem was I would have to 1) work mostly on operations versus learning design, and 2) give up self-employment to become a full-time employee. Both felt like the wrong choice but I also felt I had to apply. The company, team, and role were too good to pass up.
So I spent a substantial amount of time doing case studies, interviews, and talking through the prospect of getting the role during what was supposed to be a long overdue vacation. At the end of which, I was rejected. I wasn’t a fit.
Lesson: Trust your gut—even when it means walking away from great opportunities. I could have saved myself and the team time and energy (especially since they were generous in providing constructive feedback) had I not been fearful of missing out.
So earlier this summer, when I was invited to apply for another role with an equally reputable company that was more focused on learning design, I told them it was difficult not to apply but that I owed it to myself and was excited to see where my solopreneur adventures take me. The best part? I’m still working with them on an informal basis.
🐌 Rejection #3: The social media slow burn (sometimes stagnation)
What happened: This one feels like an ongoing rejection. I’ve struggled with producing content for Twitter and LinkedIn over the past eleven months, and I’ve struggled to grow my following as a result. Hell, people have told me they’re surprised I keep shipping this newsletter with only 220 subscribers after forty-seven weeks.
It can be tough to stomach sometimes. Especially, when I see so many people producing at machine-like force, amassing huge audiences. It makes me doubt whether I’ll ever manage to follow suit.
Lesson: I’m still working on this one. But I’ve realized I need to lean into my go-to mantra for life in general: “the only path to follow is your own.” Wouldn’t it be anticlimactic to write the same story as someone else and know what each chapter will bring? Instead, I’ll find my own rhythm to create content by experimenting and having fun with it going forward. Stay tuned.
Preparing yourself (or your students) for rejection
“You’re way too good for him/her.”
“Their team doesn’t deserve you!”
Those are but a couple of common consolations we offer loved ones in the throes of rejection. But that’s the high schooler in us chalking up misalignment to one party being “better” than the other. And I’m not judging—I’ve been guilty of cheerleading those standpoints to friends and family in their darkest hours.
But now, I’m less emotional and more thoughtful (translation: less reactive and more responsive) in consoling others—not to mention myself. Rejection is simply feedback that you’re not a fit with your pursuit. And that’s good to know because it prompts you to 1) level up and reapply or b) redirect elsewhere.
Isn’t that better than wasting your time on something that won’t bring you the happiness or fulfillment you think it will? Let’s not forget expectation and reality are rarely identical twins.
📌 Teaching tip: Whether you’re teaching students or teammates, the best way to help them grow from rejection is to share vulnerably about how you’ve levelled up or redirected based on rejections of your own.
That’s all for today. Thanks for being one of my first 220 subscribers.
For those of you new to this burgeoning community of course creators and writers, check out past editions here. Also, feel free to hit reply with feedback. I would love to hear from you.
Have a wonder-full week,
P.S. If you’re currently struggling with rejection, here’s a reason to be grateful for it:
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