Hey – I want you to do a little experiment for me.
Close your eyes (well, okay, close your eyes after reading these next few paragraphs – otherwise this will get difficult), and picture your FAVORITE person in the whole world.
I don’t care if it’s your spouse, or your baby, or Meryl Streep – just picture them very clearly, and enjoy the nice, fuzzy feeling that accompanies.
Now list three things that are less-than-ideal about this person. Just three minor things, if you HAD to name them, that aren’t perfect.
Okay. Now picture one person – you can make ‘em up, if you want – who would hate those three minor flaws; who would ACTIVELY DISLIKE your favorite person.
Maybe this imaginary enemy just hates babies; maybe they think your spouse’s “cute” ear-cleaning is disgusting, maybe they think Meryl Streep is overrated (how dare they?!).
Open your eyes.
What was the point of this little exercise?
Everyone – even the most amazing, wonderful, lovable, talented, luminous person in the world – has their detractors. Sometimes those detractors latch onto legitimate “flaws” to hate; sometimes their dislike is based on pure caprice.
But NOBODY – not one fantastic, amazing person on this whole planet – is universally beloved.
So when YOU are the object of that antipathy – when someone dislikes your work, or your personality, or just, seemingly, the sight of your face –try to keep it in perspective.
Freelancers are subject to the ins-and-outs of other people’s opinions, more than most. Because we’re constantly applying to gigs and courting new clients, it can be easy to let negative feedback overwhelm constructive comments.
But the truth is that you will NEVER please all of the people, all of the time. This is an actually impossible quest: one that will drive you crazy, sap you of motivation, and suck up your emotional energy.
Perversely, some clients will LIKE your work for the very same reasons that others reject it – and those are the clients that you want to be working with.
When you find yourself agonizing over somebody’s nasty (or offhandedly negative) comment, when you use it as an opportunity to project all sorts of fear of failure and self-doubt… keep in mind, you’ll never be everybody’s cup of tea.
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As Dita Von Teese once said:
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
Some clients – some people – are just going to dislike your work (and possibly you, personally!)… AND LISTEN: THAT IS OKAY.
Rejection can really, really sting; it’s easy to use negativity as an excuse to hide away, or even quit.
But think again of your favorite, favorite person; would you want them to hide their light under a bushel for ONE SECOND, just because some grump out there doesn’t prefer it?
Or would you want them to keep growing, keep learning, keep being their wonderful, quirky, much-beloved selves – and ignore the haters?
Take a page from your own book. Give yourself the love you have for that person, flaws and all. Not everybody is going to like you, my freelance friend – but as long as you like yourself…. who cares?
Kate Hamill lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.