“Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
We usually think of rejection as something negative, something to hide from, something to avoid. Or in melancholy, we think of rejection as something to wallow in, to stew in the sadness. What if we can change that “stinkin’ thinkin’” to see it as a benefit, a beauty? What if we can, instead, rejoice in rejection? We must find the lesson and pause to find the meaning. Here are three ways that I have rejoiced in rejection in the last few months.
- A rejection from an editor: I sent an article that I had written recently to a well-known online magazine. It was my first submission to this editor and I had no idea what she might think. A week later, I received an e-mail from the editor, with a form letter rejecting my article. At the bottom, though, the editor included these words: “Thank you for your submission and for your words.” Even if they don’t want my words now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t want another article from me in the future. I patted myself on the back for the bravery of writing and submitting words that are near and dear to my heart. Just three years ago, completing an article and submitting it was still a pretty new phenomenon for me.
Lesson to rejoice in: Keep writing, keep getting better, keep researching new places to send your writing. Keep going.
- A rejection from a would-be employer: A few months ago, I began the process of moving from Colorado to New Mexico. A full-time job announcement, based in Santa Fe, popped up in my e-mail box. I applied, including a rather lengthy online questionnaire, daydreaming about days in the heights of Santa Fe and pondering sky-high rents with the generous salary. It seemed like it, with the requirements and responsibilities, was perfect for me and my experience and education. A couple of months later, I still had heard nothing. Instead, I applied for another job, this one in Albuquerque. I was called to Albuquerque for two interviews for that second job. By late September, I had moved to Albuquerque, staying with a friend, while I looked for an apartment. In early October, I received an offer for the Albuquerque job and on Friday, completed my second month in the new position. The Santa Fe opportunity, with its glorious salary, sits open and no one seems to know if and when it will ever be filled.
Lesson to rejoice in: Sometimes, the one you thought you wanted is not what you needed. Albuquerque suits me much better, and allows me to pursue two dreams at once, working at a wonderful job and pursuing night school in a dream field. It’s about more than salary. It’s about opportunity and a puzzle piece that seems to fit “just right.”
- A rejection from a potential suitor: A few months ago, after putting my heart on the shelf, I dusted it off and set up an online dating profile. I responded to quick messages and looked at the profiles of those who had viewed me. One man called me “cutie” and asked if I wanted to meet for coffee on a Saturday full of errands. I responded with a “yes” and made plans to meet at a strip mall Starbucks (his choice, not mine). I got there at our appointed time, 5:45, with a text to a friend who would know my whereabouts in case a safety backup was needed. I waited and received a text from the date saying he was late due to grandparents’ delay in picking up his kids. I am patient and figured this was a legitimate excuse, knowing kids and pickup times can get scattered in the busyness of a Saturday. He finally came in 20 minutes late, full of apologies. He plopped down, we chatted and then I excused myself to order coffee, asking if he wanted anything. He looked at me strangely and shook his head no. Our conversation was winding and strange and stilted. He squinted at me, as if high, or perhaps sleepy. Then 10 minutes later he said he was going home. No explanation, no apology, no fake excuse. Phew. I didn’t know what to think, but I realized that sometimes that’s the point. I had plunged into the dating world and realized that it’s not easy. I stayed behind in the coffee shop, nursing my foamed beverage and read through the weekly newspaper. I texted my friend that I was indeed safe and then laughed myself silly on the drive home. Dusting off the heart and dating adventures continue.
Lesson to rejoice in: Sometimes the gift is in the rejection. This was clearly a fellow whom I had nothing in common with, beyond a similar zip code. There was no attraction on his side, nor mine. No words uttered, in this case, was better than a polite excuse or a forced second date.
As we pursue life, we will find rejection from loved ones, from unknown ones. It shows we are trying, doing, and living. Sometimes, the alternative to the rejection is not a fairy tale in itself, but we learn and we pick ourselves up again. We dust off our hearts, we take ourselves off the shelf. We open ourselves to failure, to rejection, to success, to life.