Writing Into the Wind
Of all the steps along the path of life, I’ve found rejection to be one of the most challenging and the most impossible to avoid. We all face judgment and rejection on a regular basis. Sometimes it hurts so much, we become afraid to expose our vulnerabilities to other people. But when we don’t, we feel lonely and misunderstood.
During the pandemic, I wrote a collection of stories about what shaped me and made me into the person I am today. With no particular goal for my work, I wrote about the ballet, my past relationships, marriages, careers, (I’ve had a variety of those), mental challenges and my spiritual development. I enjoyed the writing but when I was finished, and held the pages in my hands, I felt isolated and unhappy. I’d been
working diligently for a long time, I had a lot of material, but there was no one to show it to. I call that “writing into the wind.”
There was a reason I felt like I was being blown around in the breeze. I would have to share my work with someone, but I was afraid. I’d had a number of books published, I’d had some success, but I felt resistant to see if anyone liked what I had done. And therein lies the crux of the matter: “To see if anyone liked what I had done.” What if they didn’t? What if I got rejected? How would I deal with that?
People are in the habit of criticizing each other, comparing themselves and if they don’t measure up, they try to make the other seem unworthy or untalented. That doesn’t have to affect you. You know who you are and what you’re capable of doing. You know your motivations behind your actions. You know how people act when they feel insecure. I’ve learned that when someone is Criticizing me harshly, they’re always talking about themselves. When they look at me, I’m like a mirror for
them and maybe they don’t like what they see.
Unfortunately, there are bullies everywhere. You may be married to one or be the brunt of someone’s anger. You may the target of someone’s jealousy or you may remind them of someone they don’t like. As a ballet dancer, an actress and a writer, I’ve suffered a great deal of rejection. Bad reviews and dismissive agents are par for the course
when you’re artist of any kind, and if you believe what your inner critic is shouting at you, you won’t enjoy the process and you’ll never finish anything. It sounds like this: “What makes you think you have the talent to do this? You’re no good so you might as well stop right now.”
That doesn’t feel good but avoiding what you want to do is a thankless way to spend your time. Back in the 1980s, I wrote my first book, “Awakening the Healer Within,” about a number of trips I took to the Philippines to study the controversial faith healers. The practiced a
unique kind of healing and I was writing about the research I was doing. Some of the healers I met appeared to be really helping people, I felt good about them, but when I got back to the states, the overall consensus was that these so-called gifted men and women were deceiving people and robbing them of their money.
It was an uphill battle to find an agent for my book. I got turned down right and left, some kindly and others not so much. I went from agent to agent, trying to stay optimistic but the multitude of rejections were hard to endure. My worst encounter was with a female agent who called me on the phone. When I heard her voice, I was hopeful. I’d received so many rejection form letters, I thought if she wanted to speak to me, that was a good sign. I realized I was wrong when she started yelling at me in a shrill voice. “This is ridiculous. Do you expect me to believe it? Do
you expect anyone to believe it? Everyone thinks they’ve written a great book.”
I couldn’t understand why she was so angry. “We have to believe in our work,” I told her. “How else can we find the stamina to do it?” I climbed into bed, pulled the covers up to my chin, and I sobbed. I gave myself twenty-four hours to pout and then I got up and carried on. My desire to share the things I’d learned was stronger than my fear of rejection. I kept on going and finally the miracle happened. Someone from Simon & Schuster liked it and wanted to publish it.
You just can’t avoid people’s judgments and it hurts. That’s a human being’s cross to bear. It’s as if you were pregnant for nine months, you had a hard labor, and finally you birthed a perfect baby. But when you showed your newborn to people, they were not impressed. They
didn’t like her eyes or they thought she was too fat. You took it personally and wondered if you’d misjudged your precious creation. Would he or she grow up to be beautiful or ugly?
The truth is that what shows up in beginning will grow, develop and evolve. Have you ever gone to a high school reunion where the kids who were popular and gorgeous look ordinary and the outcasts, the funny looking ones, have ripened into extraordinary beauties and
successful business people? Supermodels often talk about how awkward they felt when they were in school. They were tall, skinny and graceless, they felt like misfits, and they were bullied by the other kids. They judged themselves and hid in the shadows in the schoolyard, but eventually they became strikingly beautiful, wealthy and sought after.
When I began writing, I wasn’t very good. I had to keep practicing and face constant rejection. I remember wanting to show my work to a friend so I wasn’t writing into the wind, but when I did, he felt slighted, judged and exposed. It made me fell terrible but I came to understand that the only person you have to please is yourself.
Do you feel okay about what you said or how you felt? Each time someone judges or treats me with less than kindness, instead becoming weaker and afraid to be my authentic self, I become stronger and more confident. I remind myself not to take things personally because I know who I am and the older I get, the more it feels good
to be me. It always hurts to be rejected and judged for the things that I
create, but I do my best to remember that somone is judging what I’m doing. Not who I am.
No matter how it feels, keep on moving forward. If you don’t buy a ticket for the roller coaster (I happen to detest them), if you don’t climb in, buckle up and surrender, you’ll be missing the wild ride that is called “life.”