A virtual friend of mine (virtual meaning online, not someone who is almost my friend) mentioned this week that he was feeling discouraged. My initial desire was to cheer him up, but then I got scared that his discouragement might be contagious, that if I tried to say anything to shed some positivity on him that the blue shadow of his mood might transfer to me. I also worried that because I don’t know his specific situation, my attempts at encouragement might be misplaced and come across as trite.
This week I found out that I did not make it into the top 30 finalists of a writing contest I entered. There were over 450 entries and I didn’t expect to win; however, I really thought this would be the year I’d at least make it to the top 30. I know that my writing isn’t a fit for every publisher/publication out there but it’s hard to remember that when you scan the list and your name isn’t there.
As I’ve tried to put my writing out into the public world more, rejection is a recurring theme. In order to choose one piece, another must be rejected. I get that. And while I’m usually a pretty upbeat person, I will admit that I’ve been knocked down by rejections more than I thought I would. It has affected me more than I would have predicted at the beginning.
Rejection feels personal, even when it’s not.
When facing discouragement, from whatever source, what can you do to get through it? How can you get up from feeling down?
Just as we all have widely different personalities, what works for one person might not be effective for someone else. It is also surprising how the source of the discouragement and the intensity of it can elicit different responses. For example, I’m not usually a huge crier, but when my novel was returned to me with extensive notes pointing out all the bad things about it, you better believe I cried.
Crying works wonders. It’s like a sauna for your eyeballs, sweating out through tears all your body’s impurities and sadness, but without all that heat and inability to breathe.
A long, fast walk outside can do the same thing.
Moaning works too.
Praying about it is useful, but during those times my prayers usually tend to be one-sided whine-fests. I’m convinced that God wants to hear about it anyway, though, even if it’s not eloquent or lofty.
Chocolate chip cookie dough is also effective.
The thing that works the best, at least for me, is talking to a trusted friend, somebody who “gets it” and understands the significance of your discouragement, or doesn’t mind sitting in it with you. To hear that you are understood and not alone can be the most powerful way out of discouragement.
Have you been discouraged? What caused it? How long did it last? How did you turn things around? I hope that you find encouragement at this blog, if only from knowing you’re not alone. Hang in there, and in the words of that old gospel song, joy’s gonna come in the morning.