OK, I'm just gonna come right out and say it. I'm probably taking a risk here, dropping all that positivity we're supposed to exude in the cyber-world. But, here's the thing: I've been getting rejected a lot lately. I don't know what to make of it. It feels so bad. It feels like it could be a sign. It feels...like something I have to deal with, like something I have to figure out. It's like a rash, or a leaky faucet - there's got to be a reason this is happening, and I have to figure out why.
So, the other day, after receiving another "no" email, I posted something in a Facebook group I'm part of, and I asked people in the group what they do when it feels like the doors are closing. What do you take this as - a bump in the road, an obstacle I need to go around, or a sign I'm just on the wrong damn road?
Somewhere between eating a poorly thought-out lunch, ignoring a phone call, and texting with my husband about childcare logistics, it dawned on me. Here's what to do with the rejection. Put it out there. Write it out. Speak it. Just let it go. I mean, we've all seen those inspirational memes with portraits of Steve Jobs and Michael Jordan and Oprah and others, writing about how they got fired, rejected, thrown out. But how many times do you see the average, every day, "just like me" person say, "shit, I just got rejected again"? Well...never, I guess. Because somehow the experience of a regular Jane like myself isn't worth as much as Oprah's? Because little successes in the face of rejection aren't valued as much when from an average person as opposed to the richest woman in TV/guy in basketball/computer nerd? Because nobody has ever told the mortals among us that it's ok to be just that, mortals. Imperfect. Not always smiling and positive. And vulnerable, to the judgment of others, and to ourselves.
I have been trying desperately to find positivity in how things haven't been working out so well for me lately. For one, I have had more time with my kids and with Brian. The house is STILL a major mess, but not as bad. The garden still needs a ton of attention, but I've started this recycled brick edging project that's actually starting to look pretty cool. I've photographed some new and different things that I wouldn't have done otherwise if I'd had more of the jobs I've been seeking, and I've found I love it immensely. I've been there for friends who needed me. And, when my beloved Murphy was dying, I had space and time in my life to care for her, and my grieving daughter, and myself, which I would not have had if some of this rejection hadn't happened.
But I could only think about how rejection has it's positives for so long. The wonderful thing, and also the hard thing, about having little kids is that it forces you back to reality all the time. You can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself and wallow in the latest no. There are little hands to be held, meals to fix, boo-boos to kiss, homework to do. And usually being pulled back out of myself to tend to the needs of my children is, in fact, just what the doctor (or, in this case, the therapist) ordered. Because, though these tasks are great symbols of the mundaneity of life, they are also reminders of life's bottom line, love. To my children, I am perfect, no matter how many rejections, no matter how many dead ends, no matter how many no's. They love me, in their perfect, innocent, ideal, ferocious way. They see beyond my flaws, draw me with a big beaming smile surrounded by hearts, light up when I walk into the room. When there is a boo-boo to be kissed, or a meal to be made, I'm the right woman for the job.
Part of what makes rejection so painful, at least for me, is that it feels so personal. This is particularly true, I think, when the part of you getting rejected is some creative outlet, some product that represents your vision of the world. It's that double whammy of both your work and your vision, YOU in the truest sense, being turned down. Beyond that, it only adds fuel to any fire of self-doubt already present within. When we're rejected by others, the negativity goes right from the words on the page, through your eyes, into your brain, and jumps into the pool with the other self-doubt party-goers, drinking martinis and doing cannonballs in the afternoon sun. It all gets mixed together, till we're swimming in our own uncertainty, surrounded with every negative sentiment ever directed our way.
What if, though, instead of letting the pool party get totally out of control, we chose to set aside our own feelings of inadequacy for just a moment? What if instead we allowed ourselves to bask in the warm light of those who love us unconditionally, who see in us perfection (or, at least, lovable imperfection)? What if, when one door closed, the other door that opened let in the warmth and light of our partners, our pets, our friends, our families, our children? Instead of seeing ourselves through the eyes of those who tell us no, why not see ourselves through the eyes of those who would draw us with a big smile, surrounded by hearts?
If for no other reason, do it for those who love you like that. For me, I need to do it for my kids, to show them that turning towards the light is a possibility, to show them that love of oneself, even when things aren't going so well, is ok, is possible. I want them to love themselves as they love me, with innocence, without judgment, with warmth and perfection. I want them to bask in the light of their own love, as well as mine.
If I can teach them that, then I really am the right woman for this job.