I’m a little ashamed to admit that I have been unfairly interpreting my cat’s refusal to spend time with me as targeted rejection on a very personal level. He’s a recent rescue cat, you see, and very timid. He spends most of his day behind the washer, and hisses when he’s afraid (which is always).
This weekend, I had an Aha! moment that has already helped me not take my cat’s behaviour to heart—and I think it’s a lesson that can help us freelancers deal with rejection from prospective clients as well.
My moment of clarity occurred thanks to an excellent event this past Saturday called “Building Your Freelance Business: A One-Day Seminar for Writers and Editors.” For me, one of the quotes of the day came from Diane Davy (Work in Culture) during her presentation “Running Your Business Better.” I’m paraphrasing a little from memory, but here’s the gist:
“Freelancing is doubly difficult because you have to market not only your services, but also yourself. You have to sell yourself without letting it affect you emotionally. It’s business.” — Diane Davy, “Running Your Business Better”
How does this tie in with cat-rejection? As I was tentatively reaching out to my scaredy-cat last night and feeling a little discouraged and frustrated, my mind snapped back to that particular quote. I realized that the cat isn’t really rejecting me. He’s shy, he’s been hurt, and he’s got his own stuff going on. He just doesn’t need what I’m trying to offer right now. If I’m patient, he may come around.
I think it would be helpful for us to think of potential clients in the same way (minus the shy/hurt part… that’s rescue-cat specific…). They may pass on our pitch letter or not seek out our services, but that’s not necessarily a direct rejection of us to the very core of our word-nerdy souls. That particular client may just not need what we’ve got to offer right now. They’ve got their own stuff going on. Maybe they’ll come around, maybe not. It’s just business. (That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek continual self-improvement, though.)
Yes, perceived rejection hurts. It stings, it aches, it turns the stomach. It’s easy to take things personally, especially as freelancers. We’re only human. But I think it would be good for our health and happiness—and business—if we really tried not to take rejection too personally, and instead used it as an opportunity for growth.
I’m confident that I can win over my cat in time. Some great new clients, too.
Related article from Freelance Folder: 7+ Common Freelancing Confidence Busters and How to Fight Them
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