Do you consider an academic career? Be aware that this career path requires you to be able to cope with uncertainty and rejection on a day-to-day basis!
I agree that working in an uncertain environment can be tiring. After all, no one desires to be rejected and we all strive for success. Yes, being an academic has its benefits. However, by pursuing an academic career, you expose yourself to a life with a continuous inflow of remarks, corrections, and even rejections.
The worst part of it that these are usually made by anonymous peer reviewers who decide whether your research paper is worthy publication.
Rejection hurts, even when you have accumulated years of academic experience and developed the position of an expert in your area of research. In my view, this is the most challenging part of being an academic. However, I tend to let rejections slide after my work is published!
When I was at the early stage of my academic career, I asked myself how I can stay motivated and inspired to push the boundaries of knowledge in such a competitive and uncertain environment? How can I maintain sustainable performance and stay focused on what really matters – getting my message across to users of my research?
What helped me to stay motivated and fight negative thoughts was the awareness that everyone gets rejected from time to time.
That is right – everyone gets rejected.
This was one of the ‘aha’ moment for my career – I understood that it is nearly impossible to maintain a 100% success rate and rejection is an inherent part of being an academic.
This helped me to appreciate how rejection can influence my wellbeing and productivity and plan my activities subsequently.
This gets me to the main question I wanted to answer in this article – why do I think rejection is good for you in academia.
As your papers get rejected, you will most likely receive some feedback. This feedback exposes the main challenges and weaknesses of your research that you may not have thought about when doing the research or writing your manuscript. This is, of course, assuming that the peer-reviewers were not biased and tried to be fair! Assuming this was the case, such rejection presents you with insights on how to improve your work and try again to get it published!
How do you deal with rejection?