My intention was to have this piece posted two days ago but every time I sat down to write I started to feel one of two things: either 1) the way that I feel itchy after someone (Chris, I’m talking to you) has reminded me that there
are might be black widow spiders lurking between the rafters of the deck that I often stand below. Usually I ignore this, (I’ve only seen one big, black spider under the rafters and I don’t think it was a black widow) but when I am reminded, I feel like there is absolutely, definitely something crawling on me. Or 2) the way that I can somehow feel the sugar moving through my veins after I have a bite of something very sweet. I avoid sweets to avoid this feeling—it makes me wonder if I’m feeling what heroin feels like (okay, probably not…) and then I feel like a shitty drug addict when I’ve actually only had one bite of carrot cake.
So this piece about rejection made me feel really gross, basically. It’s been a rough 48 hours.
But I keep seeing signs that I should write it. For example, I stumbled across these two articles in Under the Sun and on NPR. (These are both much more eloquently written than the piece you’re about to dive into; my feelings won’t be hurt if you jump ship.)
Like addressing an illness or an ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, these things must be addressed, after all. But ugh! The spiders! The sugar-veins!
“I know it’s hard to write, darling. But it’s harder not to. The only way you’ll find out if you ‘have it in you’ is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your ‘limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude’ is to produce. You have limitations. You are in some ways inept. This is true of every writer, and it’s especially true of writers who are 26. You will feel insecure and jealous. How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you.” [emphasis added]
I got a little teary eyed. So I am back in my chair, writing, and I will finish—and post—this piece on rejection.
The first time I remember being rejected was when I was denied the role of Gretl von Trapp in my school’s musical rendition of “So long, farewell.” I was in third grade and probably not the greatest singer in the world—or in the third grade—but for some reason I really wanted that part. Gretl was undoubtedly the cutest of the von Trapps and her simple line, “The sun has gone to bed and so must I,” sung whilst resting her head on her tiny little forearm was something I thought I could do perfectly—all the parents would sigh, spirits would soar, hearts would break; I would eventually realize my persona as a Spice Girl and my life would be fantastic.
Instead, one of the music teacher’s daughters got the part. It figures, right? (And by “it figures,” I don’t necessarily mean that this production was rigged. I mean that perhaps a music teacher’s daughter is a more adept singer than the literary genius and athletic extraordinaire that I was shaping up to be, simply based on environmental factors. Obviously I still hold this teacher and her daughter in contempt. I’m trying to be more realistic about my assumptions about people but the deepest wounds—infected by crushed childhood dreams and foggy memories—are hard to mend.)
I would realize strengths in other departments, but I do my best not to sing in public anymore. Call it psychological damage or a reality check but I no longer harbor desires to be a pop star—or any kind of musician, really. (Besides my dream to learn to play the harmonica and travel around America busking, but I haven’t worked too hard to achieve that goal…) So maybe it wasn’t the end of the world that I didn’t get to sing Gretl’s part, but it felt like the end of the world at the time.
The reason I bring up this story is because I’ve been thinking about rejection a lot lately. Bummer, right? No, no; hear me out…