Reflections on "Rejection"

Yesterday (Monday) morning, I was on my way to work with a pretty heavy case of the Mondays. Call it laziness, depression, apprehension, whatever, but most of the fibres in my body were screaming “go back to bed”.

In an effort of procrastination, and to come to my senses, I dived into Press Coffee for an espresso, and started reading The War of Art - my current self-help book of choice for the struggling creative.

Press coffee

I came to a page on rejection, and how the fear of rejection holds us back from the things we want to do, and a flash-back from the day before, of a young man in a swimming pool saying publicly “I failed!” about his first ever high-dive attempt, came in to my head.

Something compelled me to start writing about this event, and my thoughts and reflections on it, so I opened my hardly used notebook (I don’t write very often) and just started writing the story, and my thoughts, as they came into my head. Here’s a photograph of one of the pages, proof as it were:

Notes on a blog post

It was freeing to just write, unplanned, for myself, without censorship, and for no real purpose, other than to write and think.

Feeling more relaxed, and somewhat pleased with myself for having written my first piece of “creative writing” in 10 years I headed into the office to start the work day. Since I can’t be trusted not to lose anything physical, I posted the story on my blog, and tweeted in the faint hope that I’d get a “nice story!” or something of that ilk.

Hacker News

Unbeknownst to me, @semanticist posted a link to the story on Hacker News, and it somehow made it’s way to the #2 spot on the front page.

This is what being at the number 2 spot on the front page does to your Google Analytics:


For reference, for the entire 18 month period prior to yesterday, my blog had about 2000 unique visits, total. So a 6-fold increase in 24 hours is somewhat significant.

The full run down of the fallout of this moment of internet fame was:

  • 12,676 unique visitors
  • Over 70 tweets linking to the post from people I don’t know
  • 25 comments on Hacker News, ranging from “awesome post” to suggesting I must have lived a sheltered upbringing to think such things.
  • 88 click throughs from my blog’s about page, to my startup Float. Absolutely not why I wrote the post, but interesting nonetheless.
  • 3 new twitter followers (a whopping 0.023% conversion rate).
  • A blog post in response to my post. Which, even though it’s not particularly positive, I’m pleased that it stirred up something in someone.
  • Confirmed reports that the post made at least 2 mothers cry (certainly not my intention).
  • One day almost entirely lost to checking Hacker News, Twitter, and Google Analytics.

And that’s pretty much it. The post is now long gone from the Hacker News homepage, I haven’t signed a book deal, nobody bought our startup for a billion dollars, I still woke up this morning the same apprehensive-about-going-to-work-me that I did yesterday. But I’m pretty okay with that.

The irony in all this of course, is that if I had sat down yesterday morning thinking “I’m going to write a post about rejection that’s going to get on the front page of Hacker News and be read by over twelve thousand people around the world”, I would have probably never finished it. The fear of rejection would almost certainly have held me back.