How to ask for help (and how to cope when the answer is no)

Recently, I began working on a project that I could never complete without the help of some (okay, many) of my friends. Asking for that help, however, has proven easier said than done. 

As it turns out, I have, among other anxieties, an intense fear of rejection and subsequent failure. There, I said it.

image via shutterbean

image via shutterbean

This project is a cause I believe in, and it can make Athens, my new home (at least, it's where I've felt the most at-home in the last decade) an even better place than it already is. I won't make money from it anytime soon, but has the potential to help a lot of people, which is good enough for me. 

As a creative, it's tough to deal when someone might not be as amped about your idea as you are. I deal with this frequently, even in my day-to-day work. When a writer turns in a story, a former editor explained to me once, it's like you're offering a gift, a part of yourself, however small it may be. And if that person doesn't respect the gift you've given them, if they don't nourish it and appreciate the beauty you see in it, that hurts. You need a tough skin. 

So I'm not sure what my expectations were when I pitched my idea to someone whose work I respect, while asking them for help in introducing me to some people who might be interested in it as well. Before then, the response from others had been great, but I also understand that most people won't tell you you're crazy right off the bat, they'll be more like "oh that's so interesting!" while slowly backing away. I hadn't gotten any red flags like that, so I pulled the trigger and hit "send" on the email. 

It was a leap of faith, or something.

Now it's several weeks later, and I've followed up twice with no response from the other party. Bummer. 

 It's easy to fall into that place where one setback can feel so huge, and dealing with rejection (even lazy, passive forms of rejection, which are just the worst) sounds like running a marathon.  I've bounced back and forth between thinking of giving up and wanting my idea to be a raging success for the last three weeks, and honestly, I'm still not completely confident in my ability to accomplish the latter.

But that's my problem. The people whose ideas deserve a chance to see the light of day are relying on mine to work. It's a lot of pressure, but I'm up to the task.