Yes, I confess, I love Dancing With The Stars. And every time I watch an elimination show, I’m amazed at how well the pro dancers are able to maintain their composure, to take a philosophical attitude about the situation: we tried, we did our best … now, on to the next thing.
It occurs to me that these pro dancers have faced a lot of rejection in their lives - probably starting when they were small children. And sure, rejection always hurts, but they’ve also learned that life goes on. You live to dance another day. You didn’t win this competition, so it’s time to start training for the next one.
I could use a bit of this insight in my own life.
For me, writing is hard. It’s like I open a vein and bleed onto the paper, and when it’s done, there’s a piece of me there. I’m drained. When I’m criticized, or rejected, I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but it stings.
I have colleagues who take a different view. For them, rejection is just part of the landscape of academe. It’s to be expected, and it’s not a big deal when it happens - they shrug their shoulders, and get on with the next project. Maybe they revise this one, and send it to another journal, or plan to submit it as a conference paper to get some feedback, make improvements. And maybe they’ll decide it wasn’t that good after all, and stick it in a drawer. But they don’t take it very personally.
I’m getting better at this, but I’m still hurt by rejection. It helps sometimes to remember that many best-selling books were rejected dozens of times, or that athletes struggle for years to win a single medal. And it helps to remember those dancers, who are able to take being “voted off” in stride.
On to the next thing.