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They say you should embrace rejection, because it means you’re trying things and you are opening up to many possibilities. And I guess it’s true. But to get used to rejection, and even embrace it, is not a straightforward thing. After working full-time (mostly corporate) jobs all my life, in 2021 I decided to go freelance and make a switch of careers at the same time. A very bold move, by my standards, because I’m a control freak who panics at the thought of uncertainty. A bold move by anyone’s standards, given the difficulty to change careers after a certain age. But, sometimes, a moment comes in our lives when the fear of staying where we are is bigger than the fear of change. I had to try it.

Freelancer life
Photo source: Canva.com

Working as a freelancer is doable. Many people do it, and many thrive working as freelancers. Others collapse under pressure and go back to normal jobs (nothing wrong with those jobs, btw). Freelancing requires determination, and it’s best if you are a confident person with high self-esteem. It’s the worst situation to be in when you have the impostor syndrome. To be a freelancer means to be that person who is kicked out the door this month and comes back through the window next month. It’s a situation where you have to shake off your illusion that you can control things; it’s not made for everyone, and I know that some aspects of it are not made for me. But it comes with something I value a lot: it comes with freedom.

Freelancer life2
photo source: Canva.com

At least that’s what they say. For now, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed that freedom much; I’ve been working 24/7 and not being rewarded for that. I’ve been learning, making mistakes, trying to stay on track, trying hard not to give up. I felt helpless, and I felt amazing. There were many moments of anxiety and moments of panic, and there were moments of joy. I’ve been on a roller coaster, gripping the safety bar as hard as I could so I don’t fall off the wagon.

The worst part of this life is rejection. Having to pitch my services and getting rejected, sometimes not even politely, is tiring. I wonder if it feels more personal because I do creative stuff, and I feel they reject me as a whole, not just my services? How do you get used to that? When? After how many months, years? It wasn’t all rejections. I’ve had a few successes as well, but nothing spectacular. For someone who’s been a freelancer for a long time, all this lamenting might seem useless. I hope I’ll get to that point one day, but for now, I feel as if I’m putting my soul on a plate at the market and no one is interested. This will probably remain in my memory as “the year of learning to embrace rejections”. Hopefully, in 2023 I will be able to write an article about all the good things that came out of it.

I can already tell you about one that I wasn’t expecting: rejection made me more confident. Yes, you heard that right. I realised that, at the end of the day, what matters is who I am and what I believe in. Rejection is so random that you can’t give it importance. What’s important is that you have clarity on what you want to do. That you do your best, put all your effort in it, and do it no matter the obstacles. I learned how to trust my gut and my decisions more, and that’s a big deal for me. Still working on getting used to it to the point where I don’t consider it rejection anymore, I am trying to embrace what I consider spammy interactions: me sending emails to people who didn’t ask for that, them not answering or sending a (sometimes brutal) email back. I know I’ll get there at some point, if I stick to this life and don’t go back to the traditional employment.

How to embrace rejection?

I have three things I’m doing that help me stay on track and not become discouraged by rejections (they help most of the time, at least):

  • Sending cold emails is just another task in the calendar. I do my research; I write and send emails. Then I move on, not thinking about it anymore until it’s time to do the follow up. If I get a “No”, I move the email to a folder and cross the company off the list, as this makes me feel like I’m done with them. No need to think about it anymore.
  • I treat myself when I get a “hard” rejection — maybe a company I really wanted to work with, or someone cancelling a photo shoot at the last moment, saying that they actually wanted another for a photographer. I have to reward myself for trying.
  • Focus on working on something else. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and overthinking, I do something productive, like writing articles for my blog or editing a video for the YouTube channel. If my mind is too distracted to do that, I go out to take pictures or record something for a new video. That will take my mind out if it, for sure!

If you are new to the freelancing world, I hope these tips can help you too. And if you are a freelancer and reading this, I would love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment or send me an email. I promise I’ll reply!

And now, for some inspirational talks:

The Power of Embracing Rejection

What I learned from 100 days of rejection

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2 Comments

  1. thanks so much for referencing my freelancing guide, Dana! 🙂

    • You’re welcome! Thanks for all the useful info 😉

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