“You do not meet the minimum qualifications.”
“Thank you for your submission! We are sorry to inform you that your story has not been selected for <insert journal here>.”
“We feel your poem does not fall under the parameters of our theme…”
“…you will not be contacted for an interview.”
“Best of luck on your search,”
Yeah, ok. Thanks.
My reaction to this kind of rejection is complicated and goes berserk in milliseconds.
- Sinking feeling: “Oh…”
- Rage: “Well screw you, I didn’t want to work for/be published by your stupid company/journal/online magazine anyway, you bastards.”
- Combination of shame and self-satisfaction over rage.
- Unbookmark the two sketchy Craigslist rentals in <insert city here> that permit Rottweilers and cross off <insert publisher here>.
Do not roll the dice. Stay in jail.
I’m closer to thirty than I am twenty, and it feels like I’m just not THERE. I haven’t happened upon that mythical balance of career, life, and happiness, or found the place where everything falls together in perfect harmony. Fortunately, no one else I know has found it either. I still have yet to hear, “No, actually, it’s all perfect; I’ve made it. And let me tell you, it’s great!”
It’s so easy to project it though, isn’t it? Social media sites are waterlogged with how great people are doing, how happy they are, how successful their jobs are, how cute their kids are, photos from their latest trips, their newest cars/grown-up toys/Coach bags, the list goes on and on. There have been occasions where I’ve rolled my eyes at any or all of these posts. And there have been occasions where I’ve posted the exact same sentiments of how “wonderful” everything is. Forget the body image criticism Cosmo gets – I’m suffering from Pottery Barn’s lifestyle image.
The first draft of my thesis had a line that went something like: Maybe twenty-four is too old for a coming-of-age story… and all three of my thesis committee members chuckled. “You’ll have one at twenty-four, another one at thirty,” they said. “Then again when your first child is born, and when you buy a house, and when you’re forty. Life is a series of coming-of-age stories and mid-life crises.”
Perhaps I’m later to this realization than my peers, but THERE exists with unicorns, flying pigs, free plane tickets to Paris, and a single, modern-day Rollo Lothbrok. And yet why is it so hard to remember that? When did my life become a series of “I don’t haves,” instead of “I do haves”?
I recently read an old blog post sponsored by the Huffington Post here. It offers a new perspective, one that celebrates your 20s as your chance to be impulsive, to try new things, to wander, and to explore. So I’m wandering. I’m exploring. I’m being impulsive. Let’s be honest, I have no money to do those things the way I want to. I’m hoping that buying this Iced Triple Grande Caramel Macchiato with light ice and extra caramel drizzle won’t be the deciding factor that determines whether or not my cell phone bill gets paid… (as the voice of logic that sounds too much like my father screams “Then stop buying them and stick to your budget!”)
But my heart can wander through Rumi and Neruda’s poetry. I can explore my neighborhood with Maisie while we walk, seeing my neighbors through new eyes. I can change my hair color on a whim. And I can write about whatever I want.
And so we 20-somethings pick ourselves off the floor and gather up what’s left of the dignity we develop and shatter simultaneously. We try again. We apply again. We resubmit again. We “do” again.