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Melissa Broder on dealing with rejection

How do you deal with rejection?

I deal with rejection, or perceived rejection, by feeling like a loser. I know some people who have been published, or have record deals, or show their work in galleries, say you have to just let rejection roll off of you like water off a duck’s back. Well, sorry but I’m not a duck. Much of my life is an exercise in waiting for confirmation of my worst fears about myself, all of which can be distilled into two categories: that I am a loser and/or that I am cosmically bad. In the case of creative rejection there can be dribs of the latter, but the underlying fear is the former.

The latter fear is more of a judgment about my personhood and has more to do with whether or not I am a good human being and less to do with my talents, drive and hard work creatively. It’s more just a general question of whether I deserve to exist on the planet at all. Of course, as I’m saying this I’m hearing people say “you can’t separate your art from your personhood,” but in terms of self-judgment, I guess I sometimes do. Sorry.

Sometimes when I get validated for my work, I get high off the validation and forget that fear of whether I deserve to be here for like five seconds. I just like ride that serotonin wave like, fuck everything. But ultimately nothing gold can stay, including the high of achievement. And in terms of rejection and the feelings of loserdom that follow, I don’t stop writing or anything. Writing is just what I do. And I write a lot about feeling like a loser and also my fear of cosmic judgment.

About the Author

Melissa Broder

Poet, Essayist, Dog Owner, @sosadtoday

Before finding online success as the author of the Twitter account, @sosadtoday, Melissa Broder was a poet with three well-regarded collections (Scarecrone, Meat Heart, and When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother) and poems in a number of journals (POETRY, The Iowa Review, Guernica, Fence, etc). In 2016, she published a collection of poetry called Last Sext and the autobiographical essay collection, So Sad Today. Her dog’s name is Pickle.