You’re “not the right fit.” I think the first time I heard those words was from my boycrush in junior high. I had just slipped him a note. It was humiliating. Of course, I heard it a few more times from a few more boys since, as well as from more than a few potential employers (apparently I did not have what it took to be a Subway “sandwich artist”).
Last week I got one of the toughest rejections of my life. From a publisher.
For those who don’t know, I have several journalism, poetry and nonfiction credits, including a Lou Gehrig biography, but I have yet to break into my true love of fiction. From the time I was 12 I’ve wanted to be a novelist. After years of stop-start and immeasurable encouragement from others, I finally completed a manuscript and found a publisher interested in looking at it.
To work for so many years and pour yourself into something that you want so badly and to hope against hope that someone else will see the value you bring only to have the door shut in your face, even gently so, is jarring.
Am I crazy to think I have something worthwhile to offer? Have I just wasted an enormous amount of time? Am I fool?
Rejection makes you think all these things. But the answer to these questions is no.
“Not the right fit” means just that. Nothing more. Not the right fit. Like a cat in a swimming pool. A brat in a microwave. A squirrel within 100 miles of me.
The right fit makes the world spin the way it’s suppose to. Being in something only for the sake of being in it doesn’t make you any better. Being in the right something at the right time for the right reasons makes you what you were designed to be.
Like Michael Phelps in a swimming pool. A brat on a grill. All squirrels on a remote island…in the Arctic.
Not gonna lie, the publisher’s rejection reduced me to tears. It made me ask all those self-doubt questions. But most importantly, it made me reflect.
Underneath that rejection was a lovely waiting to be found.
All the rejection I have received in my life has worked for an advantage.
Yes, an advantage.
- I am no longer as fearful of rejection. I can accept it easier now, knowing that it is an inescapable part of life, especially the life of a writer.
- I have learned that rejection is less about me (in most cases) and more about the situation. The boycrush and I were completely incompatible, but I couldn’t see past his heart-melting eyes.
- Rejection is a battle wound I can point to and say, “Let me tell you what I learned.” Scars are the medals of experience.
- The bite of rejection teaches appreciation for the warmth of acceptance. “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” He promises.
- Rejection is a potential side effect of a life lived bravely. I took a step many people are too afraid to attempt.
- Rejection is a fire by which my identity is refined.
- Rejection is just a bend, not the road itself.
Rejection comes to everyone. Will you let it break you or build you?
I pray you choose build.
This post originally appeared on my previous blog, Find the Lovely. But I still read it every now and again…when I get another rejection.