Craving Rejection (or, why we need Alexis Stewart to piss us off)
I had an email pop up in my inbox yesterday, a magazine I had submitted two poems to wanted me to know,
“… After careful review of your poems, we have decided that they don’t quite fit into our vision for Issue 42. We wish you much luck in placing them elsewhere.“
I immediately logged on to Twitter, a place, if you don’t already know, is excellent for instant gratification and pick-me-ups. A friend was quick to respond to my self-loathing with this tweet,
“… We write to satisfy a need; we submit to punish ourselves for the pleasure.”
Yes… I get that.
It seems we are pre-disposed to seek rejection, I think. We seek rejection by taking chances… in writing, in love, in friendship. When our longing to be accepted is reciprocated, it makes the sting of rejection seem like a far off land, and so we will willingly make the journey again. We will seek out rejection because when rejection doesn’t come, something far greater does… acceptance. Acceptance — arms-fully-stretched-out-in-a-tight-grip-of-love — is so filling that we will willingly and wantonly continue to place our hearts on the edge of tumbling off the cliff or soaring through the morning sun rise. One act of acceptance makes us forget a hardened heart full of rejection.
I watched a segment on the Today show recently, it made me very uncomfortable. Alexis Stewart was plugging her new book that she co-wrote with her no-longer-on-speaking-terms-used-to-be-best-friend, Jennifer Koppelman-Hutt. During the entire excruciating segment, Alexis never once looked at Jennifer, never acknowledge she was sitting next to her. She said, at one point, “… if you want to punish somebody, never talking to them again is a really good method.” Wow. That hurt me, I couldn’t imagine what Jennifer was thinking as she sat next to her… or maybe I could. Rejection… but something else too. I got the feeling that Jennifer wished for a reconciliation, wished to have her friend back, wished to be acknowledged by someone she cared about. I got the feeling that Jennifer Koppelman-Hutt would seek out the sting of rejection again and again for the remote possibility that one of those times, she would be accepted.
Rejection is the same, whether we are rejected by a friend, by someone we look up to, by our parents, by a faceless editor on the other end of an email… rejection feels the same and we need that feeling. We need to feel the angst, the sadness, the pain that rejection offers us. So… I will continue to submit my poems and my short stories, I will continue to love without fear, I will continue to cry and break and fall and ultimately laugh in the face of rejection. Because, without it, I will never know the beauty… the wall-breaking-heart-pounding-soul-filling beauty of acceptance.