And lately, my cup overfloweth with rejection from potential employers and publishers. The emailed lines “Thanks, but it’s not what I’m looking for” and “We had so many wonderful applicants, but…” are becoming such expected parts of my days that not receiving one or more after my first cup of coffee has me questioning the functionality of our WiFi service.
No matter how many times I quietly advise myself not to get overly excited about a particular submission, there’s always that little optimistic fairy buzzing around inside my head chirping, “THIS IS IT. YOUR BIG BREAK!” It’s the human condition, undergirded by the absurd notion that we’re each unique snowflakes and we’re all going to do great things.
But the fact of the matter is that I don’t need a particular job or to be published to feel like I’ve accomplished something meaningful – that I’ve succeeded. Would it be nice to have a job right now? Sure. And I’ll have one soon enough. Would it be amazing to have my manuscript published? Undoubtedly. Will it happen? Yes, one day – even if I have to self-publish it at age 84.
Oftentimes, I dwell on the sting of rejection because pushing on and staying strong are so much harder – and no one wants to constantly travel the hard, more pothole-pocked road.
But I’m finding there’s a certain silver lining of rejection: in those first moments after a particularly trying rejection letter, I have to cling to what I do have. I reflect on what I have at that exact moment – a logical mental calculation to offset the defeat with a triumph, or at the very least, a comforting realization.
That’s exactly what I did this morning after I got my first query rejection for my book. It came from my top publishing company pick, the one I was sure would be “the one.” And right after I read the last line of the email, I screamed into my darkening mind, “THAT’S OKAY. KEEP GOING.” I took a breath and closed my eyes.
And then I walked around, and let my eyes stop on a framed wedding photo.
I have a loving husband. He’s mine. I’m his.
I looked around our apartment.
We’ve created this.
I sat next to a slumbering Toby and hugged him.
We’ve given this furry being a new, fulfilling life.
I thought about our future.
We’ll create a family. Together.
And the rejection’s sting subsided.
Albeit blunted, the sting will be with me until it’s supplanted by a more biting one, or balanced a bit by hopeful words, or even an acceptance letter.
The important thing for me is to first feel it, then absorb it, and ultimately let it go.
Because each day is a celebration of much more than what we do or accomplish, and I fully intend to keep reveling in it all.