Yesterday, I was rejected.
I submitted a piece of writing that I REALLY loved into a contest of sorts. Those chosen would perform their pieces (essays, monologues, songs, etc.) at an intimate venue in Boston in a celebration of motherhood.
To be honest, I wasn’t even going to do it. A friend sent me a link to the application two months ago and I brushed it off (God love her, by the way, for believing in me so fiercely). Weeks later, after walking on the beach with my daughter, I had this entire monologue about my experience with motherhood blaze it’s way into my brain. Was it hastily written? Maybe. Was it great? I don’t know. But it was authentic. And it was me. And that was enough in my mind to hit submit.
As the week wore on, I went from feeling terrified at the prospect of being chosen and having to perform to being thrilled at the aspect of getting on a stage to share my truth. I grew up performing and haven’t been on a stage in over a decade.
And then last night, I got an email that I was rejected – well, the woman said it nicer than that.
My initial reaction, after my stomach dropped in disappointment, was anger. Really? Even my journey through motherhood, the one thing I am doing around the clock, isn’t good enough? I mean, my Spanish speaking skills are getting rusty. My bedside nursing skills are probably getting rusty. I am no Debbie Domestic and my cooking is OK, so the cute SAHM/wife thing? Eh, subpar. But I’m a GOOD mom. I know I am. And I’m honest and vulnerable and I literally created a website and social media presence to connect and help OTHER moms. WHAT. THE. HELL??
(I just rage-typed those last few sentences, I’ll have you know).
But after I talked myself down, I took some time to reflect (and Facebook stalk the cast that WAS chosen). Two things occurred to me: 1. All of the women chosen (I think there were 8?) were about 15-20 years my senior. So like, life experience and more interesting stories and all that…2. The other women chosen have backgrounds as writing professionals, comics, CEOs… one was recently in an off-Broadway musical! I mean… I can’t compete with that. Well, maybe not NOW.
But another thing I realized was that there are other people out there who love the art of writing and performance and have taken years to truly hone their skills and practice. And you bet your bottom dollar they’ve seen their fair share of rejection. But my friends? Rejection isn’t failure. Rejection is a sign that you are moving forward, trying something new, wearing your heart on your sleeve, ALLOWING yourself to be in a vulnerable position. To me? That’s everything. Because the minute you shut yourself off from the possibility of failure is the minute you allow your life and your gifts to start dying.
I have been rejected plenty of times and have had to change course plenty of times as well. But in the end, things have worked out. Let me give you a few examples of rejection and how the universe has helped me out for trying (because if you can’t be honest, what’s the point?):
- My freshmen year boyfriend in high school broke up with me on Valentine’s Day (or maybe the day before?) and brought roses to the girl whose locker was about three down from mine. I was mortified. Fast forward to right now? I have a husband that I adore, who has been nothing but faithful and steadfast for the past 10 years. He gave me two beautiful babies and supports all of my ideas. When he brings me flowers, they are almost ALWAYS my favorites – Gerber Daisies. He is and always will be my greatest love story.
- I dropped out of law school after one month (I suppose I rejected IT, but I also feel like IT rejected ME). I sulked, went through a dark phase (Tara recalls the black nail polish, song writing and incense burning). But I spent a few years working and realized that nursing/healthcare is what I am most passionate about and I am now an RN.
- I wasn’t chosen for the A Capella group I sang in at Colby the first time I auditioned… the next year, I got in. It was my very favorite part of college.
- I submitted the first children’s book I ever attempted to write to multiple publishers – no dice. Just wrote another one… first draft of course… I won’t give up!
- I was overlooked for multiple nursing positions as a new grad even though I knew I would do great, if they would JUST LET ME TRY. I ended up working on an incredible unit where I met patients that have literally changed my life. When I got to Boston, I finally got a job in pediatrics. It was about a three year process, but it ended up A-OK.
- I didn’t get into my first choice nursing school. But the one I did get into had a bilingual nursing component (one of the only in the country) and I got to combine my love of Spanish with my love of healthcare and it’s like the stars aligned.
- I had an early miscarriage the month before I got pregnant with Logan and one about two months before I got pregnant with Isla. But now I have Logan and Isla and they are the dreamiest babies I could ever ask for.
So here’s what I have learned. I’m a badass because I don’t give up, even when the universe tries to knock me down. I am trying to stoke the embers of my passions even when kids, life, money and time try to convince me not to. And for as many times as I’ve been rejected, I’ve scored pretty big in the long run.
So if you think your rejection is a failure, ohhhh honey. It’s not. It’s what will make you stronger, more humble, more vulnerable, and more relatable. It will also be the thing that pushes you to learn more, push harder, and do BETTER. And that, sweet reader, is success all the way.
Happy dreaming… XO.