There’s a fabulous 2003 episode of “Sex and the City” that tells the sad tale of a poorly implemented break-up. Carrie, our lead protagonist, awakes after an evening with her boyfriend to find herself alone with a post-it note that says, “I’m sorry, I can’t, don’t hate me.” She takes the note to breakfast with her gal pals, seething with anger and disgust.
At some point, she decides that the day simply cannot go down in history as “the day she got broke up with a post-it.” So she and her friends embark on a few adventures (in true NYC, Sex and the City fashion) and finish the day laughing hysterically. In the end, Carrie got her wish: rather than the day being defined by the pathetic post-it break-up, it was transformed into the day she “got arrested for smokin’ a doobie.”
Yesterday had the potential to be my “post-it day.” It’s not because someone broke up with me; rather, I received my first official “great proposal, but no thanks” e-mail from a literary agent.
The process of becoming a published author – heck, of putting anything original, creative or personal out into the world – is daunting. So is being an entrepreneur. Everyday, we’re sticking our necks out and hoping someone doesn’t chop our heads off. We frequently vacillate between feeling excitement and feeling fear (two sides of the same coin, really). We can be excited to put our offerings out there, anticipating the perfect client who is going to be jazzed to find us and say “yes!”. We can also experience fear: fear of being judged, rejected, critiqued, ignored.
It feels so incredibly vulnerable to be sending my book idea to potential agents. It’s a baring of the soul to strangers who may or may not be safe (we hope they respond kindly, but we also know that some may feel compelled to dish out the harsh truth). The road is long and full of speed bumps, along with an annoying number of “stop,” “yield” and “detour” signs.
If we’re going to make it through the “nos” to the inevitable “yes!”, we have to be ready to release attachment to things being just.so. And as corny as it may sound, we need to know how to graciously receive the lemons and make yummy lemonade.
That’s why I love Carrie’s story about the post-it. After I had a mini-tantrum in response to the agent’s kind-but-disappointing “thanks but no thanks,” I took a big breath and realized: I didn’t want this to be the day that I remembered for receiving my first rejection (“I’m sorry, I can’t, don’t hate me.”). I needed it to be remembered for something else, something more positive and promising.
Despite a splitting headache and almost zero motivation, I laced up my running shoes and headed to the gym. It was time for Day 1, Week 1 of the Couch-to-5K program (C25K for short). I’d downloaded the app a few days before and was actually excited to start. The program has numerous advantages that this INFJ loves: structure, solitude and self-pacing. I put on my headphones and released myself into the care of “Allison,” who signaled to me when to walk and when to run.
The result? I found my own personal “reset” button, and it became “the day I successfully started the C25K program.” I was also able to reframe the agent experience into “the day I came one ‘no’ closer to a ‘yes.'”
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, artist, writer, leader or underwater basketweaver, you’re going to have days that suck. You can love what you do, and you’ll still hear “no,” experience disappointment and even get royally pissed off. That’s all a given.
Here’s what I think introverts need to especially consider: We internalize. We process our thoughts beneath the surface, which means that those sucky days can have more power over us. We have the potential to literally stew in our own juices for a long time.
It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m all for acknowledging the pain. Let yourself feel it! Wallow for a few minutes, even a few hours! And realize you don’t have to give away your power to the worst thing that happened to you that day.
You can take it back.
You can redefine your experience.
You have the power to flip the coin from fear to excitement.
And that’s a coin toss you can win, every time.
Have you had a “post-it day” (or week, or month 😉 )? How did you turn it around? What helps you move through the muck? Please share in the comments, and if you like this post, share it with your friends!