Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our Number One Fear in Life

I read an interesting article in Oprah Magazine. Dr. Phil wrote a piece on how we humans share one of the biggest fears in life: the fear of rejection.

He wrote that we all long to be accepted, and "We are at the pinnacle of life when we feel involved in the world, whether that means being part of a couple, a family, or a group of friends or colleagues. We want to belong."

Before I took writing seriously, I never really thought about the fear of rejection. But it was there. Fear of going on that job interview, knowing there was a possibility they'd choose someone else. Fear of submitting that offer on a piece of property, knowing the seller might laugh at our numbers. Even way back in high school, I remember that fear of walking up to a group, hoping they'd include me. (Heck, I still feel that fear in social situations)

But now? As a writer? Fear of rejection is ingrained into my daily life. It would be so nice if everything we wrote was loved by everyone. But no matter where we are in our publishing journeys, we'll always feel the fear of rejection.
  • The new author fears she doesn't have what it takes. She fears her skills will never be good enough.
  • The agented author fears her agent will not be able to sell her work. She fears that all the hard work to snag the agent was for naught.
  • The indie author fears her work will disappear among the digital shelves. She fears the gatekeepers were right.
  • The debut author fears her sparkling new book will fall flat. She fears low sales will stall a budding career.
  • The experienced, bestselling author fears she was a one hit or two hit wonder. She fears she'll never unearth that magic again.
Dr. Phil pointed out that successful people around the globe still fear rejection, but they don't let it hold them back. They take baby steps forward or leap with their eyes closed, despite that fear of rejection.

That's what I struggle with every single day. Feeling that fear of rejection, yet taking that leap anyway.

How about you, writers? Do you let the fear of rejection hold you back? Or do you take giant leaps anyway? Please share!


  1. Rejection will happen in life no matter what. Might as well keep plugging forward. I'm still taking those leaps of faith.

  2. Thank you Julie. I think Dr. Phil must have read: Flight To Success, Be the Captain of your Life! :) The reality is, it's not only fear of rejection, but it's about fearing looking stupid, fear of saying something dumb, or fear of not being good enough. Fear is one of the most challenging aspects of life and most limiting to achieving what we want. That's why I made it the first chapter in my book, and the most powerful. I hope you'll read it! I'm thinking if you or anyone have these fears, this could really help.
    Remember, the greatest rejection is when you do not give yourself the chance to shine and be the person you were born to be, because of fear.

  3. This is so true. I've had setbacks that made me want to quit but I kept going after a day or two of having a pity party for myself. Rejection never feels good.

  4. Dr. Phil has good advice on how to handle rejection. I've been struggling with this as I've gone through a hard job search. I tried to take it in stride but it was hard.

  5. I've been rejected so much, I stopped querying and just published. After 27 on the shelf, I'm glad I did.

  6. I think rejection is less scary when you know everyone else has that fear, too. It's part of being human, and that's somewhat comforting on blind leaps forward. ;)

  7. Rejection loses its sting with friends like you to peel me off the floor. Love all the levels of rejection fear!!!

  8. Very true, Julie. We tend to think "that other writer" is in a better position than us, and therefore not struggling with the same fear. But it dogs us all at every stage. We need to just write anyway. (Note to self: just write.)

  9. Oh gosh… wow. This was perfect, Julie. And HOW TRUE. I for one, am so pleased with how I can see my own growth regarding rejection… but man, I'm certainly not where I want to be yet. I fear it on a daily basis. Easily.

  10. I feel this every time I reach the query stage, lol. But I try and brave it and hope on.

  11. I definitely share the "please don't reject me" fear. I try to put some distance between my work and me, so if someone says, no thanks, I don't think of that as they're telling ME I'm not to their liking. They're tell me I haven't written what they need or enjoy reading. That helps a bit.