Trust Your Voice

How sitting with rejection forces us to become more grounded in the true beauty of our gifts.

Last week, I wrote two pieces for Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s online publication that I respect and admire. I’ve had several other pieces published on Thrive’s page, and I am filled pride and gratitude for the experience of contributing to a community that believes in thriving. To write something deeply personal and have others say that they believe it should be read by the world, that is quite an affirmation. Getting the email that says, “Congrats! Someone published your story in Thrive Global” fills me with all the feels.

So after writing these two pieces last week and submitting them for publication, I began to wait. And wait. And wait. One of the most challenging aspects of submitting pieces of writing for me is the radio silence. Especially when historically, I got that “Congrats!” email within a day or even hours. Now that three or four days have passed, what does that mean? Is my writing no longer good enough to be accepted? Did I neglect to edit it enough? Are my stories irrelevant?

Which turns oh-so-quickly to “Am I irrelevant as a writer? As a person?”

So often we interpret a lack of response as a personal rejection rather than allowing the possibility that it was not about us; who knows if the publication has been short on editors, or if my piece got overlooked. Or maybe, there were just so many other wonderful pieces submitted last week that there was no space for mine.

Sharing our gifts with the world is an incredible privilege. Whatever it is that we do well and authentically, whatever we do that we feel like we have placed a piece of our soul into, whether that is visual art, music, writing cooking, managing projects, caring for others… when we give the gift of our soul to the world, we feel nourished by it. Just as we hope that the world feels nourished.

But what do we do when that soul gift is not received? Or when it is outright rejected?

My mindfulness practices serve me well in moments like these. I feel my body. I feel my feet on the floor, I feel the strength of my back. I feel my breath filling my body, and I become aware of places of clenching, of tension, of holding. I continue to breath into those places until they become just a little bit more spacious. I feel in my body what sadness or rejection or insecurity feel like. The tendency to close down, to curl up, to take a stance of self-protection.

Then I notice what thoughts and feelings come up for me. I notice my insecure thoughts, my wonderings if my writing is futile or worthless. I notice my anxiety and my sadness, my self-doubt.

And then I just return to my breath. Because mindfulness teaches me that these sensations, thoughts and feelings will pass, they will change, and they do not have to define my experience; they are not the truth of who I am. Just like rejection is not the truth of my writing.

The beauty of Medium is that even if a publication rejects or neglects our writing, we can still share it with the world ourselves. What is our objective in writing and publishing? Is it to become popular, to become famous? Do we judge the quality of our writing by the number of readers who recommend or comment on our piece?

Or is it that our writing represents our voice, our truth, and no matter who responds to it and how they respond, there is value and beauty in sharing our voice and truth with the world?

I’m prone to think it’s the latter. So for me, today, that means that I’ll self-publish my pieces. Whether or not another publication picks them up is not the point. The point is that I believe in the power and beauty of my voice. The point is that I believe that the value of my gifts, of my writing, of my life, comes from being grounded on the inside, not from external forces of validation or rejection.

If we all live with this much courage and vulnerability, the world will be such a beautiful place.