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Life is filled with choices. Paper or plastic? Baked potato or French fries? Minivan or SUV? Simple choices. Small short-term effect on your happiness and quality of life, right? So let’s go to the big one.
Rejection or regret?
Because it’s a choice you make every day. You may not realize you’re making this choice all the time, however it’s in a lot of the decisions you make every hour, every day.
Say you have a dream. Most people passively follow their dream to see if anything materializes. They talk about their dream. Say they’ll be ready to act on it if the moment the possibility shows up. But they don’t really put themselves in position to realize their dream.
Few people, on the other hand, chase their dream. Few people figure out what they need to do to achieve that dream, and then set out to make it happen.
It’s easy to waltz through life content with how things are going and telling yourself you’ll follow your dream if you end up on the same path. In the meantime, you have this life to live. Schedules to keep. Bills to pay. Favorites TV shows to stream. One day, your path ends. You’ll stop following it because you’ll no longer be moving forward. And when you look back at the path you took, will you be filled with regret? You chose each step down that path. Maybe you didn’t realize the consequences of your choices because you didn’t give them enough thought. Your decisions were on the path of least resistance.
But there’s another way. It’s the longer, more arduous way. It’s filled with hard work and failure and rejection. It’s the way of the extra mile. It’s the way of putting yourself out there for judgment and ridicule. Where people decide if you succeed or not. They reject you. They show you how you failed. They dismiss your dream. You have the opportunity to become another victim or to learn from their rejection.
These are my options: Rejection or regret. I can roll along like I’ve been doing, keeping clients happy and staying in business to survive and taking a vacation every year and keeping my family content. But in the end, I’d regret if I didn’t take the chance for something bigger. Chasing my dream.
So I’m taking that chance. I’m putting myself out there one step at a time. Tomorrow, I’m going to open myself up to more rejection. I’ve written a story for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I’ve rewritten the story. Changed it from third person to first. Altered it from past tense to present. Rewrote the ending. Six times. Came up with a fourth working title (which I’m still not happy about, and that’s the reason I didn’t submit it today). Worked on one metaphor for five different ways to say “quiet.” Read the entire piece out loud and edited again. Before sending, I’ll re-read it a final time and make one last set of revisions.
It’ll be my first submission to Hitchcock. I’ve researched the magazine. Read three recent issues cover to cover. In other words, I’ve spent a vast amount of time for this rejection. They’ve never heard my name before, and I fully expect them to reject me. But I’ll be back. Because I don’t want to regret having never tried. I’ll be back, and I’ll keep coming back because I can live with rejection. I can’t live with regret.
[“If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough.”]
So when people ask me why I embrace rejection, I’m reminded of Sylvia Plath who once said, “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” Then she wrote The Bell Jar, and nobody asked her about rejection slips anymore. Even though I bet she still got them.
I choose to get stronger. I choose to keep trying. I choose rejection. And maybe someday, someone will choose to accept me.