Are You Able to Stay Open and Say ‘Yes’ to Opportunities?

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Last month I applied to the TLC Pen Factor writing competition run by The Literary Consultancy, one of the best Literary Agencies in the UK. A lot was hanging on it. I felt like I was giving my book the last shot.

Just before having the final look at the draft application, I realised that I wanted to win this competition against all odds. The old habit of forcing and pushing to get what I wanted kicked in. What’s more, even before I applied, I felt disappointed. It was as if from the outset disappointment was there to protect me from pain.

For years, I used to wear a mantle of disappointment in order to protect myself from bigger heartbreaks. If I told myself that I wasn’t going to win, I’d be less disappointed when I loose, right? No, it still hurts. In the past, I made it worse by beating myself up: ‘I knew I wasn’t going to win. Why did I bother to apply?’

Disappointment doesn’t save us from disappointment. It only multiplies as we unconsciously search for proof that in the end that’s exactly how we’ll feel anyway. I’m not an advocate for false positives and faked happiness. It doesn’t work. How you feel underneath that fake smile is what matters in the end. If we use disappointment as a shield, it needs addressing and clearing from our systems,  because it can stop us from staying open to the outcome and saying ‘yes’ to opportunities.

Take this competition. My proposal made it into the top 10, but not into the final 5. I’m pretty sure that in the past I would have wallowed in self-pity and regret because I didn’t win it. Of course, there was a bit of disappointment because here I was in the top 10 again, but I quickly cleared the feeling by giving myself some compassion. Focusing on my heart centre and solar plexus, I spent about five minutes directing warm heart energy towards my being and saying phrases like these:

  • I’m so sorry you didn’t win.
  • I’m so sorry that you get so close to the finish line, but never cross it.
  • I’m so sorry that you are disappointed.
  • I’m so sorry that they rejected your work.
  • I’m so sorry that they didn’t choose your proposal.

The list went on.

As soon as the feeling shifted, I felt uplifted. I even managed to view this outcome as a major achievement. Ok, I didn’t pitch live to a panel of agents and editors, but the agency said that my work was exceptionally strong and that they have forwarded it to two agents who are on the panel. So, something still may come out of this contest and, even if not, then my proposal is ready to be sent out to agents and publishers.

What do you do when a great opportunity presents itself to you? So let’s say you are applying for your dream job, submitting an application to a prestigious competition, or sending an e-mail to a well-known agent or publisher. How do you feel on the inside? Do you brace yourself against disappointment? Do you tell yourself: ‘Oh well, this is not going to work anyway, but I’m giving it a shot, just in case.’

Does this sound familiar? Please share with me in the comments box below.

55 thoughts on “Are You Able to Stay Open and Say ‘Yes’ to Opportunities?

  1. I had my first ever knock back by email last night for Dug the Pug. I have only applied to two agents so far as my journey to be published begins. Having done a bit of reading into being published, I would say that I also approached the application with some pessimism. However reflecting on my work, which I am happy with, I looked at my submissions as expressing my passion toward creativity and story telling. I’m sure I will have many more days of rejection, but will always try to carry a positive light away from each one. I wish you all the best with your ambitions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear David, thank you so much for sharing here. The fact that the agents bothered to answer is an achievement in its own right. Sadly, rejections are just part of the publishing landscape. All I tell myself is that it’s not personal. It’s truly isn’t. So much hangs on what an agent is working on, who he/she has got on-board, how ready we are, etc. I wish you all the best on this journey. Keep your positive light shining! I find that sharing things like this with people who go through the same process helps a lot. Many thanks for commenting. I really appreciated it.

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  2. Hi Gulara – I think disappointment in outcome is the saddest thing. I often wonder if having expectations is directly linked to disappointment. But that’s another story. I don’t think I brace myself for potential disappointment when putting myself out there – and while a part of me knows the value of detachment re: outcome, I guess I would be hopeful and in imagining mode for good outcome and that the Fates will be kind or providential or whatever.

    Good luck in future developments re your book 🙂 🙂 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree wholeheartedly, Susan. I have moments when I get to the point of detachment, and then there’s a huge relief, and things can flow effortlessly and the way they meant to, but it doesn’t come straightaway. I watch myself obsessing and having ‘expectations’. And we have those then it’s easy to miss the mark because the fate didn’t deliver what we ‘expected’, even when there’s a whole plethora of other good things that came through. It’s work in progress 🙂 Just like my book. Thank you very much for reading and thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I understand that mantle of disappointment you wore. I think I had/have a similar one. It comes from feeling unworthy, of not being good enough. Every rejection, every disappointment added another “I told you so” patch to the cloak. It is a difficult cloak to throw off; and even when I think I’ve discarded it, I’ll find another trace of it on my collar or in a pocket. It takes courage and resilience to proceed but we do, even when the weight of the cloak brings us down, for we know, despite what others have tried to convince us of ourselves, we are worth it. Sadly sometimes we don’t recognise the good that appears if it takes a shape different from that we were hoping for. But you have seen it here with a manuscript that is ready for agents and publishers, and readers who are waiting in the wings. I wish you success. I am waiting to read. 🙂

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  4. CONGRATULATIONS, Gulara, and SORRY for your disappointment. I’m very familiar with this territory, and success just means higher-level let-downs, but it’s so important we keep trying because, just occasionally, we might get there. Currently my novel is longlisted for an award: yay, but sitting on my shoulder is the anticipated disappointment for when I don’t make the shortlist. I think sometimes it can be hard to acknowledge our disappointment because we are slightly shamed by our hopes. So brave of you to stay with this. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Anne, I’m keeping fingers and toes crossed for your novel!!! Good luck! Whatever the outcome, please share. We have to talk about setbacks as much as we do about achievements. My heart opened reading your comment. I really appreciate you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations Gulara, as I feel something wonderful will come from your receiving a lovely response regarding your writing. Sometimes winning isn’t the best opportunity, but the support you receive now may prove to be incredibly exciting. I’m applauding the success that you made. Also, you are learning to be kind to yourself and to deal with disappointment. That is a HUGE stride in itself. I avoid contests completely… see… you are making wonderful advancements in your mindset! BIG HUGS to you! Wonderful will come!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Gwynn. It’s yet another stepping stone which gave me a boost of confidence. Every set back I had so far meant that I went back to my manuscript and polished it some more. My work has matured and evolved, so in some ways I wasn’t ready to win before. I’m very close now… I so appreciate your support, Gwynn. Big hugs to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It does sound familiar and has been a self-fulfilling prophecy as of late. I recently got an email I didn’t get shortlisted for that novel contest I entered in the spring. But I didn’t get down on myself, because I know I still have lots of work to do on this novel.

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  7. Gulara, I think you have one an even bigger prize than the writing contest – you won over your own disappointment and that is a huge accomplishment. I went to a ladies’ group at my friend’s church a few months ago and when it came time for the usual raffle items I wasn’t even bothering reading my ticket because I don’t win. My friend said I should still look because I am not going to win at all if I keep thinking I won’t. There were about four prizes that neither of us won and then at the very end they had a copy of the speaker’s book signed by her. I had memorized the last two numbers of my ticket and sure enough, they were called and I won! Oh, yes, the book was partly about setting ourselves up for failure!

    Keep trying and stay positive. You will crack that top five!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Lydia, it’s true, isn’t it, we sometimes give up even before we lost! Yes, having a hard look at disappointment was truly liberating. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, what a well-timed post with my recent decision to apply for the NYU Creative Writing program starting in 2017.
    I can’t believe you got in the top 10 again! What an achievement! Yes it’s heartbreaking not to have made to the top 5 but as you said, you never know what may come out of this. FINGERS CROSSED!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well. This is interesting. I could have written this post (except for the self-love part). That mantle of disappointment? Wow, I know that. It’s there to protect us, right? Wrong. Like you said, it does nothing of the sort. So why do we keep doing it? This: “If I told myself that I wasn’t going to win, I’d be less disappointed…No, it still hurts.” Argh! But I’m not in favor of fake happiness, either. “It doesn’t work.” Exactly. So, yes, this sounds very familiar. ❤

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  10. I resonate with the’getting to the point of detachment’ in one of your comments.
    For me it’s not about being disappointment, it’s more my insecurity. I always have to tell myself, nobody is perfect, it isn’t about who’s right or not, your truth doesn’t have to be their truth and vice versa, etc.
    My grandfather used to say “NO you have, Yes might be possible’. So yes, I keep trying, since the feeling of reaching a goal is worth the difficult road to it 😉

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  11. I know that feeling of disappointment after a rejection very well—it abounds in this game! Still, you got so close—again! And if two agents are considering it, it shows your book has merit and you will get there. Keep trying.
    After I didn’t win the Hungerford Award last year, I was mightily disappointed. At first, I attacked myself and my book, saying my story was hopeless and how uppity I was to have even considered it in with a chance. I went with those feelings for a while, just let them roll out and didn’t judge them. I soon felt better and was back at my computer within 24 hours and wrote a blog post about it.
    Deep down, I knew good would come of it. I think we just have to believe in the process and that things happen for a reason, and it will be our turn in good time.
    Hang in there and you’ll make it. Thanks for sharing this. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I well remember that post, Louise, you did so incredibly well. All these things are just stepping stones. Sometimes I confuse a milestone with the destination. All is good here. One step at a time. Just another acknowledgment that things are moving along in the right direction.
      Many thanks for reading and your support. xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Regina. Nothing like health crisis to put things in perspective. I had a dental surgery on Tuesday which eclipsed all my worries around agents 🙂 The best outcomes happen when I let go of expectations. Who knows, they may even get in touch. Thank you for stopping by.

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  12. Well done for getting so far with the competition Gulara it shows great promise. Unfortunately writing comes with a lot of knock backs and it seems to me that writers have to develop a bit of a thick skin and a strong sense of determination to succeed. Hope you do hear something positive from those agents, keep trying, keep writing, keep smiling. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Rachel, it’s so true. It’s just sometimes we make feelings ‘wrong’ and struggle to embrace what’s perceived ‘negative’. The easiest way to deal them is to feel in the moment, which is easier said than done sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Healing Scars Left by Disappointment and Rejection | Dr Gulara Vincent

  14. This was such an enriching post, as well as many of the comments. I haven’t been doing any writing for almost 2 months, a lot of it due to lack of self confidence (I can say this now only because you have been so honest on the topic of disappointment). So just the fact that you have a book, all written up and waiting to get out there, is a great achievement from where I stand right now 🙂 I can only say, congrats dear Gulara!! 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, dear Durba, you are much loved and your writing is needed in the world. Finding your blog was the highlight of the A to Z challenge for me this year. Please keep going. The book has been written over 4 years – well, technically it was written within a year but it’s been shape-shifting ever since. More on that on the coming Monday 🙂 Sending you a big hug!

      Liked by 1 person

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