I’m having one of those weeks where it seems like nobody is emailing me back. I sent out 15 pitches to publications and contacted a bunch of sources for a story I’m writing, and not a single person has replied. Sometimes, it just feels like the universe is not opening up to me.
I used to have a lot of anxiety when emails wouldn’t come in, especially if I was waiting on a payment or for an editor to tell me if they liked my story. I would refresh my Gmail inbox every few minutes, looking at it while in bed in the morning, on the treadmill, and yes, on the toilet (we all do it, right?).
I needed that outside validation because I didn’t have any self-soothing techniques in place. I couldn’t cope with rejection or worse, ghosting. I automatically thought, “There must be something wrong with me if they’re not replying.”
It didn’t come across my mind that perhaps people were out of the office, inundated with emails, or waiting to hear back from a boss or another department before replying to me. I always internalized it and thought how I must not have been doing something right. Maybe 10% of the time I wasn’t doing the right thing; that couldn’t realistically be true for every single case.
We are in an unhealthy culture where we live for other’s people comments, likes, replies, and shares. We crave so much more attention than we ever did, and social media and email only feed into this.
But when I’ve really reflected on whether or not that attention matters, I’ve come to this conclusion: It does not. I usually don’t feel better when I get more attention. The only thing that I really love hearing is, “Kylie, you helped me” or “I can really relate to this.” Knowing I’m forging a connection with another person and making them feel less alone in this world is really meaningful to me.
This week, I’m trying so hard not to slip into my old habits and be negative about myself just because my inbox is empty. When you are self-employed or trying to accomplish a dream, you NEED to that voice inside of you that comforts you and keeps you going. Instead of refreshing my email for the 12th time today (I only woke up a few hours ago!) I’m writing this blog. I’m going to do my work. I’m going to wait patiently. If those emails come in, great. If they don’t, great. I don’t need them to be OK. I just need me.