That First Rejection

A few weeks ago I got my first rejection.

…well, no, I suppose that’s not really true. I was a high-performing (read: highly competitive and highly active) student in school, and I modeled as a child. I’ve been rejected. Often. This, however, was the first rejection I cared about.

On a whim, I applied to a program that I really know I had no business getting into, at least not right now. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, but I’ve been slacking where it comes to honing my abilities. I write, but I don’t finish and I don’t edit (not well). Still, this was a program with a speaker that I really admire and it was not out of the realm of possibility for me.

So I applied.

And I waited.

I started getting anxious. (Which is rare enough for me since I couldn’t do anything about it, so normally I don’t worry.)

And I waited some more.

Then I got my rejection.

God, it hurt. I have a few friends who knew that I was freaking myself out about this and I had a mini-breakdown with them. Then — surprisingly to me, as I have no previous experience with this thing called “disappointment” — I got over it. I saw my rejection for what it was (more of a “please try again next year” than an outright “please, burn that and never write again”), realized that my style of writing wasn’t even that great of a fit for most of the instructors, and I moved on.

I’m not going to print the e-mail out or tape it to my wall. I know that I got rejected. Believe me, I know and I’m not going to forget it anytime soon, nor would I want to forget it. But, it is a turning point for me.

Since I ended up writing three short stories in the span of two weeks — all of which weren’t all that bad, but were far from the quality of work I get from my fanfiction (yes, fanfiction) — I learned something. I want to be a writer, so I need to write. It may seem like a ridiculous thing not to already know, but I wanted to be a writer, and I hadn’t really been writing. I’d been sketching things out now and then, coming up with ideas, outlining, but I haven’t finished anything.

The first rejection is important because it shows that you’re really working toward your goal. It means that you’ve finished something, and that you’re willing to put yourself out there to find your niche. Getting that first rejection is important for another reason. It takes away that fear. Once you’re told that you’re not right for something you really wanted, it makes rejection the “known,” not the scary “unknown.” The second rejection is easier, and eventually it just goes in the drawer.

Have you been rejected before? How do you deal with it?