Some thoughts about rejection:
We sit on a chair in a room and imagine faraway places or create complex characters, who feel like real people, with texture and depth and innermost feelings. We peer inside our souls, searching, reaching for those little thoughts and emotions we’ve stored, those sad or embarrassing or messy parts of us to expose on paper, in order to connect, to share something magical, special or true with another. And our hope is, when another reads what we’ve shared, they will somehow transform. Just as we have transformed. Where we laugh or cry or just learn something new, they will laugh or cry or learn something new as well. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and bleed the words because of this unspoken truth; that we all just want to be heard.
So when we write the words while we sit on our chairs in our houses, the hours and days and seasons go by, and although the words have been written, nobody reads them. Or we write the words, but nobody likes them. Or we write the words and nobody cares. But still, even so, we desire to share that magical, special truth with another, we hope for that transformation, we just want to be heard, so we rewrite the words, and we rewrite the words, and we rewrite …
At last, while sitting on our chairs and our hands and our hope, after we’ve written and rewritten all of the words, after every sad and embarrassing and messy part has been exposed, and spring and summer and autumn and winter, and another and another … how can we not take the rejection personally?
We should put the rejection inside an imaginary box and throw it in an imaginary sea on an imaginary world. And we can do this because, after all we are writers, and we make up stuff all the time. That’s what we do…
… and so, this is really more than just a post about a writer’s rejection, it’s about how to find grace in any of life’s undesirable circumstances. I began to write this last night and when I woke up this morning, I realized there was more to say because rejection is a part of life from birth till death.When I was a preschool teacher, some three-year-olds would refuse to share or play with others, and so goes an example of the first peer rejection.
Presently, I have a friend who dreamt of going to law school. He had a good GPA and LSAT score and felt confident that he’d be accepted. Finally, they did accept him but under probation and a longer wait time. So, he was accepted but only if enough students (who were accepted outright) decided not to enroll. He was on pins and needles and dismayed. When at last, he received a phone call that he could attend, he was elated. He says, “Just to prove something, he worked hard and graduated in the top ten of his class with honors.” He did something spectacular with his initial feelings of rejection.
I have another friend who was married for thirty years when her husband left with their daughter’s best friend. She learned how to care for herself financially, emotionally and spiritually and even after she remarried, she still has the confidence that she can weather anything. Another friend’s husband died and although she was in her early seventies, she filled her lonely days learning Chinese to help others in a missionary work.
To me, how we handle rejection is a reflection of our character. All of the writers I know personally do so with elegance and grace, so we should applaud ourselves for learning how to weather rejection by building confidence in ourselves, maybe even by imagining our rejection floating off in an imaginary box toward an imaginary island, far, far away.