As someone who suffers from perfectionism, I know the fear of rejection well – it is a steady companion in most endeavors. This reality is hard to explain to those who don’t suffer from the same, and I often try to describe it by sharing that rarely does receiving a complement feel like it is simply a positive affirmation. Almost every compliment is followed by immediate feelings of intense internal pressure and expectations to match and (hopefully) surpass the complemented accomplishment. Suffice it to say, it’s a tough load to carry.
All humans benefit from some degree of fear of failure. It keeps us hard working, motivated, attune to detail, and helps us to invest our work with pride. But once fear of failure becomes debilitating it is no longer helpful, but a sure road to developing chronic anxiety, unproductive self-criticism, and existential feelings of restlessness and “never good enough”.
In Rejection Proof, Jia Jiang talks about his journey of trying to break free from the fear of rejection, as he goes on a 100 day “adventure” – trying things with the sole intent of being rejected – and being ok with it. While the concepts are deep, the read is light and often quite entertaining. If you don’t find the book personally beneficial, it will absolutely help you better understand the struggles of others.
Below is Jia Jiang’s TED Talk.