Reading time: 3 minutes —
Life is filled with choices. Paper or plastic? Baked potato or French fries? Minivan or SUV? Simple choices. Small short-term effect on your happiness and quality of life, right? So let’s go to the big one.
Rejection or regret?
Because it’s a choice you make every day. You may not realize you’re making this choice all the time, however it’s in a lot of the decisions you make every hour, every day.
Say you have a dream. Most people passively follow their dream to see if anything materializes. They talk about their dream. Say they’ll be ready to act on it if the moment the possibility shows up. But they don’t really put themselves in position to realize their dream.
Few people, on the other hand, chase their dream. Few people figure out what they need to do to achieve that dream, and then set out to make it happen.
It’s easy to waltz through life content with how things are going and telling yourself you’ll follow your dream if you end up on the same path. In the meantime, you have this life to live. Schedules to keep. Bills to pay. Favorites TV shows to stream. One day, your path ends. You’ll stop following it because you’ll no longer be moving forward. And when you look back at the path you took, will you be filled with regret? You chose each step down that path. Maybe you didn’t realize the consequences of your choices because you didn’t give them enough thought. Your decisions were on the path of least resistance.
But there’s another way. It’s the longer, more arduous way. It’s filled with hard work and failure and rejection. It’s the way of the extra mile. It’s the way of putting yourself out there for judgment and ridicule. Where people decide if you succeed or not. They reject you. They show you how you failed. They dismiss your dream. You have the opportunity to become another victim or to learn from their rejection.
These are my options: Rejection or regret. I can roll along like I’ve been doing, keeping clients happy and staying in business to survive and taking a vacation every year and keeping my family content. But in the end, I’d regret if I didn’t take the chance for something bigger. Chasing my dream.
So I’m taking that chance. I’m putting myself out there one step at a time. Tomorrow, I’m going to open myself up to more rejection. I’ve written a story for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I’ve rewritten the story. Changed it from third person to first. Altered it from past tense to present. Rewrote the ending. Six times. Came up with a fourth working title (which I’m still not happy about, and that’s the reason I didn’t submit it today). Worked on one metaphor for five different ways to say “quiet.” Read the entire piece out loud and edited again. Before sending, I’ll re-read it a final time and make one last set of revisions.
It’ll be my first submission to Hitchcock. I’ve researched the magazine. Read three recent issues cover to cover. In other words, I’ve spent a vast amount of time for this rejection. They’ve never heard my name before, and I fully expect them to reject me. But I’ll be back. Because I don’t want to regret having never tried. I’ll be back, and I’ll keep coming back because I can live with rejection. I can’t live with regret.
[“If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough.”]
So when people ask me why I embrace rejection, I’m reminded of Sylvia Plath who once said, “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” Then she wrote The Bell Jar, and nobody asked her about rejection slips anymore. Even though I bet she still got them.
I choose to get stronger. I choose to keep trying. I choose rejection. And maybe someday, someone will choose to accept me.
13 thoughts on “I Choose Rejection”
I loved this. Loved, loved it.
Hey. There’s nothing like a rejection shellacking to build character. Or your characters. You could create who’s so contrary and pessimistic s/he reeks of sourdough bread.
I’m sure regret is much worse than rejection. All those “what if’s” tailing you for the rest of your life. Funny you mention THE BELL JAR. I’ve got it on my nightstand. You might be surprised by the Hitchcock submission, however, I’d start exactly in the spot you’re in. Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed, or you might be pleasantly surprised.
Good luck, John! I’m rooting for you!
Thanks, Donna. I appreciate it. Seriously. And I’ll let you know on Hitchcock. I’m delaying the submission by a couple days because I’m going to read it aloud at a SinC critique group Wednesday night and make any revisions based on their feedback. But I’ll submit it this week still.
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That’s perfect. Reading out loud is almost as good as a lobotomy for clarifying though. 🙂
Can’t wait to hear how this all turns out. I”d be interested in know what your Crit Grp thought too! Drop me an email if you want…firstname.lastname@example.org
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I will absolutely report back, Donna. Good news or bad.
Hey John, Donna told me to head over here because I might like what you wrote. Well, she was right, I loved it. You are my kind of thinker and doer.
BTW I noticed by your bio that you live in Kirkwood.
I USED TO LIVE IN KIRKWOOD.
It was the sixties when I was blond and stupid. I’m not blond anymore.
I graduated from LHS in ’66. Yes I am that old. Wow. This is weird.
But really I loved your post. Hitchcock will take you, if not this one, then the next or the next after that. I read Hitchcock for years. Haven’t in awhile though. I guess I’ll just have to start up again so I can read you. Keep at it.
Go green and gold.
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Oh my gosh, 2Ns, now you’re cracking me up in two places! I bet you’re confused and you’re still blond, I think you got that one wrong.
Glad you liked it, thanks for that. You know this industry, affirmation comes along rarely compared to rejection, so it’s always a good moment.
And I can’t believe you used to live in Kirkwood. Pictures or it didn’t happen! (Kidding.) I live just a few blocks north of downtown Kirkwood if you have a better memory than me. Probably looks a little different. Moved here in ’94, so I missed you by a bit. Wow, I sure wish you still lived here, I’d meet up with your tomorrow for lunch somewhere on Lindbergh. I referee high school basketball so I was in your alma mater a couple times this season.
See ya at the reef! Thanks for coming by.
Hey John, I lived in Missouri for two and half years and moved five times. When my friends would ask why we moved so much I used to tell them my father was a fugitive. It’s when the show was on.
Wonderful. I wonder where and when we learn the courage to embrace rejection.
Not everyone has the courage to put out their creations for others to see.
I’ve been a professional painter (tax paying) for thirty years. I’ve gotten a few rejections from short stories but then my writing time was stolen by my art time. I’ve had piles of rejections from galleries, pined over them. Friends have found my paintings at the Goodwill and at flea markets. Now I get calls and contacted. But I had to find the courage to reject my writing dream. That stung worse than most. Now I feel good about that decision. My only regret is that I never got one rejection, because I never queried.
I’d love to beta read for you if you’re interested. Send me an email if you want another set of eyes. And I very humbly whisper to you that I think a “t” is missing in your last sentence about Sylvia Plath.
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Look at you, Eagle Eyes Angie, catching my first blog typo! Thanks for the assist. (First one called to my attention anyway, there have likely been others.) I’m glad you alerted me.
Okay, who could read your comment and not think about what an incredible story you’ve laid out about friends finding your paintings at Goodwill and flea markets. What an emotional moment that must have been, especially the first time. And really, it’s doubly emotional. First, the realization that one of your pieces was there. And then, wondering what your friend is thinking in that moment and figuring out how to keep things from getting awkward. It’s like a Franz Kafka short story in one little comment box. Nice touch!
Thirty years is most impressive. I’m heading over to your neighborhood to check out some art!
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Hey Angie, pardon me for butting in.
Rejecting writing for art is a big move. I did just the opposite, set down my brushes for tapping keys. A few years ago a dear friend shared a Joseph Campbell quote,
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Writing was always waiting for me like painting was waiting for you.
Your art is amazing BTW.
What a fantastic post, John! There is so much power and clarity in each sentence that you write, it always amazes me. Rejection or regret? To be or not to be? That’s what it all comes down to. At least for me.;-) I’m crossing my fingers that your story will get published.
P.S. It feels so cozy here, dear friend! 🙂
You’re so kind. I’m staying in the Blue Ridge Mountains this week and have no Internet or phone, so it’s taken me a while to get back to you. And I’m almost out of power! Thank you for visiting and even more for your special words!
I think this blog is my favorite one, yet. Gives me something to ponder before falling asleep. Perhaps it should inspire me to get up and finish my research paper instead, though. 🙂
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