It is almost three years since I posted a picture of my Rejection Wall on Twitter. That started a whole series of events, blogs, and videos. I thought it might be time to revisit and reflect. Importantly, this update post includes heaps of links to what others have been doing in to reclaim rejection from the shadows of silence and shame.
— Nick Hopwood (@NHopUTS) June 21, 2017
Since then more than 285,000 people have seen it. Seems like the thing I’m best known for is being rejected.
The response has been overwhelming! Lots of people are saying the feel encouraged, heartened, perhaps when facing rejection themselves.
There’s a list of links to interviews and blog posts relating to the rejection wall below (right at the bottom of this post!). Including a video explaining why I did it and why I think it matters.
People are joining in the ‘reclaim rejection’ movement by ‘confessing’ their own rejection histories.
Received a rejection early morning. In fact, that makes it two this week. @NHopUTS You can call me your true student as I am following your path in making my rejection wall bigger. #rejectionwall #AcademicChatter #phdchat
— Suman Laudari (@LaudariSuman) May 7, 2020
@RoseGWhite: I’m sure I could cover a whole corridor like this!
@JRobinHighley: I would start my own display, but not sure I have a wall big enough
Similar comments from @Liam_Wagner @SimmsMelanie @TrevorABranch @naynerz @mathewjowens @SJC_fishy @RobHarcourt
@AlexaDelbosc posted a picture of her own rejection wall on twitter
People are advancing the ‘reclaim rejection’ movement through crazy, wonderful ideas
Max Mueller has told us about a rejection garden – not just reclaiming rejection, but doing some good for the environment and greening spaces we inhabit and work in as we go!
Caitlin Kirby attended her PhD Viva exam in a dress made from the rejections she’d had along the way. What a fabulous way to reclaim – to embody the reality of rejection!
@roomforwriting told us about a #wallofcourage in a writing workshop in Brazil, inspired by the rejection wall. I love the framing of reclaiming rejection around courage.
A year ago I did a session #wallofcourage for @BritishAcademy Writing Workshops with @UGMG & @UFCinforma in Brazil – totally inspire by @NHopUTS #rejectionwall. Congrats now to the wkshp ECRs who tackled the rejections and are now published. Courage all. pic.twitter.com/iKmYZIyROn
— Room for Writing (@roomforwriting_) August 19, 2019
Reclaiming rejection: In the style of Mean Tweets
After the rejection wall I was asked by UTS if I would join a group of academics reading out their rejections on video. Kind of like the way some celebrities do with #meantweets
How cool is it that I work for an institution that values and celebrates rejection in this way, and that I have colleagues who are ready to shake off the shame and go public!
Reclaiming rejection through Shadow CVs
I love the idea of Shadow CVs. I just updated mine (May 2020)with extra-special new additions – more grants not awarded, more journals rejection my papers, and some juicy new sections bringing other failings and failures out into the light. A rejection extravaganza!
I also wrote a post about all the ‘non-academic’ jobs I’ve had along the way (troubling the idea of an ‘academic’ career).
The Shadow CV is a growing genre and an important thread in the move to reclaim rejection. Other examples I’ve come across include
– Devoney Looser asks: What would my vita look like if it recorded not just the successes of my professional life, but also the many, many rejections?
Reclaiming rejection through reflecting on our experiences and responses
I’ve tried to address the issue of rejection from different angles. Sometimes it is about the overt story that it happens. Sometimes it is more about how we feel and respond when it does. Some posts you might enjoy include:
- Story of how a PhD student and supervisors responded to a rejection
- Reflection on selective lowlights from my own rejections
- Reflection on how we might respond to rejection in academia
- Account of what I did when I got a desk reject (paper not even sent for review!)
Follow-ups to the rejection wall
The rejection wall triggered quite a bit of activity – people asking for interviews, other blog posts. They share a common, core, message.
- Interview with Veronika for her How I Fail series
- Interview with Evan Holmes for the ‘It’s All Pretty Funny’ series
- An article in Failure Magazine (David Wilson 2017)
- Post on the UTS LX Blog about the rejection wall
- Chat with UTS LX team about normalising rejection
- Repost on the ImpactNews blog (based in India)
The lovely people at UTS also came to my office and helped make this video
Reclaim rejection from the shadows of silence and shame!
I would love to hear from you about things you or others are doing to help reclaim rejection! How are people normalising rejection? Responding to rejection?
Please get in touch – comment below or send me an email!