Part II – Three things in life are certain: death, taxes and rejection

Me at Disneyland last year, just after Mister 5's infamous half-day tantrum.

Okay, so here’s the deal.

Last week I found out (SQUEE!) that I got shortlisted for the Moosehead Awards at Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Needless to say, I was suitably stoked, but tried to side-coach myself to prepare for the likelihood that that would be it.

And so I did so, by focusing on the positives of NOT making it through. You know, with little coaching tips like :

“Well Jen, next year’s schedule is already looking rather ridiculous…” (with THREE overseas trips if everything pans out the way I hope it to);

At least you applied! At least you tried!” (Paging Doctor Seuss); and

“Another month away from Brissie and trying to manage the kids and keep your marriage in tact would make things pretty tricky!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I didn’t want to get through – you can bet your bottom toddler I did – but I was just trying to prep. I even kept the shortlisting news very much to myself, cos I didn’t want to look silly if it turned out I didn’t get it after all.

Then of course, a few days later, the news came…

Rejection.

Believe me, the irony of me not wanting to feel stupid in case I didn’t make the cut, only to now be spilling out my very vulnerable guts on feeling stupid about not making the cut, is not lost on me.

But you know, I’m a writer. Turns out I have to write these things. It’s how I deal.

The truth is, all my valiant “prepare yourself for the worst!” efforts aside, when the call finally came through: I was pretty sad. Not for long, not tragically downtrodden, not lying in the middle of the traintracks, sobbing incontrollably into my bottle of moonshine, but you know. Sad.

And then I was annoyed at myself for even feeling sad. And then I was frustrated with myself for even being annoyed at myself for being sad. Next thing you know, there I am: Sybil.

Sad Me: “I have a right to be sad!”

Annoyed Me: “Well I have a right to be annoyed!”

Frustrated Me: “Hello? Over here? Frustrated!”

Rational Me: “JUST ACCEPT THAT YOU’RE FRUSTRATED COS YOU’RE ANNOYED COS YOU’RE SAD AND BE DONE WITH IT!”

Sad Me: “Oh you. You’ve just made me sad.”

Then of course, my default Pollyanna chimes in:

Pollyanna Me: “You know, it’s really probably for the best. I know you don’t feel it now, but I’m sure you’re gonna look back on this and realise it was actually a good thing to miss out. Look, the sun is shining! Fa la la la la!”

Annoyed Me: “Anybody gotta baseball bat?”

Anyhoo, a few days later and I’m really feeling cool about it. No really.

But it has gotten me thinking about rejection and why – even if we’re bracing ourselves for it – it still sucks buttocks.

It brought to mind specifically a couple of stories…

Many moons ago at university, I went out with this guy, let’s call him “T-Rex”, who in all honesty, I was never really all that into. Don’t get me wrong, he was a really lovely, sweet, smart and attractive guy, but until the moment he asked me out, I had never even thought of him in that way. The spark just wasn’t there. A rather blunt friend of mine at the time even said to me “He’s way too boring for you!” Anyway, point is, when I finally agreed, it was really more of a “Well, okay, let’s give it a go!” kinda deal.

A few weeks later, he broke up with me. Very nicely. Very amicably. Very mutually.

Yet, when he walked away, I shocked myself by crying.

What I realised soon-after was that I hadn’t been crying “I’ve lost him!” but “What do you mean, you don’t want me?!”

And the other tale…

A friend of mine recently went on a blind date with a guy she just wasn’t feeling it with. So when he emailed her soonafter asking for date #2, she shot back a suitably polite “thanks, but no thanks” message.

To which he shot back with: “Just so you know, I’m not interested either.”

Mmm-hmm.

***

Care to share your own woeful (or even not-so-woeful!) tales of rejection? How do you deal? I’d love to hear: misery loves company and so do I!

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11 Comments

  1. October 20, 2010
    Reply

    oh I totally understand this sentiments of this post… its reminded me of my tendencies….I will often under-estimate a situation so that a positive result is a ” bonus!!!!”… and the expected normal/neg result is… well… expected… Let alone when it comes to others expectations of me… its basically = I wont fail u if you don’t expect anything so I have spent a great deal of my life underselling my potential coz then when I possibly “outdo the said expectation” then by comparison – I really dazzle!!! boy its a dizzying exhausting ride really… Bottom line…. its a mushed up mess of “expectations” and “disappointment” mixed with “optimistic ” vs “pessamistic”, tied up with “hope” vs “reality” etc etc etc…. This is an emotive topic for me personally… but gotta laugh bout it… laugh at myself… that’s progress at least… Don’t know if that made sense at all… but hey… I resonated with u Jen… even if I have taken it to a spin off of stuff not fully what you meant… xoxoxo

    • October 21, 2010
      Reply

      Thanks Mezz – it’s funny isn’t it? I had a drama teacher in high school who I remember saying “Always think negatively. Then you’re never disappointed.” At the time I was mortified, being little fluffy happy bunny that I was. But you know, I realise now that wrong or right, I’ve kinda adopted that thought. Not when it comes to going for stuff, but when it comes to waiting on the answers.

      Ah. It is a dizzying, exhausting ride!!

  2. viv
    October 20, 2010
    Reply

    Final year of uni – dead serious about journalism, applied for job at the Courier Mail. In the interview I mouthed off about the paper needed to do a better job about covering social justice issues. Editor said ‘you are what we need at this paper’. Cadet Counsellor said ‘you did good kid.’ Was overjoyed at thought that I might be a newspaper journo and not have to sell out. Felt like putting myself through uni might lead to ‘dream come true’. Heard nothing for weeks. CAlled the editor – ‘Oh sorry did no one tell you? It was between you and one other grad and he had a postgrad degree in IT and the IT revolution is coming so they picked him.”

    I went to bed for three days.

    Then I got up and my housemate helped me do 200 job applications to every media outlet in Australia. Got three job offers and took one in radio in Cairns. Which was rather fun.

    • October 21, 2010
      Reply

      Oh, I can totally feel your pain just reading that! Ugh. It sucks. Especially when you’ve already started creating the picture in your head of what it’s going to look like when you get it!

      Your housemate rocks by the wounds. That’s so cool too – you got to have an entirely new adventure that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I’m trying to focus my energies on making that happen too! x

  3. Mona
    October 20, 2010
    Reply

    I have been rejected plenty of times. Fired, not picked for internships, dumped, forgotten about, etc.

    One time I was shortlisted for this FANTASTIC ABC Writing Fellowship that I wanted SO BADLY. Like I would have died, or killed to get this fellowship. I had made it past the initial application stage to the “video interview” stage, where they wanted you to record yourself answering some questions. Stage fright DEFINITELY kicked in, and I was unable to produce a decent tape. So I decided a couple glasses of wine would loosen me up. It may have loosened me up too much because I did not get that fellowship, and from what I understand the list was very short (only about 3 applicants left). I sort of wish I had a copy of that tape today to see how poorly I did. Anyway, that’s my rejection story of the day.

    • October 21, 2010
      Reply

      Oh Mona, I think I know the fellowship you’re talking about!! I’ve never applied (I can’t unless I already have a greencard) but it is so completely drool-worthy. That’s so funny – I would LOVE to see that footage too! Haha! You know the funny thing is, it might have had absolutely nothing to do with the video at all, you never know the little things that can get somebody over the line that have nothing to do with you – see Viv’s story above for case in point.

      But I guess that’s it – it’s hard to stop yourself from imagining the worst, when you haven’t got any feedback to tell you otherwise. Would you consider trying again??

  4. nicola
    October 20, 2010
    Reply

    This is so timely as someone here was silly enough to move to the UK with mainly public sector experience when they’re downsizing their public sector… hey-ho! It’s never nice, and never easy. I am intrigued though by the identity of ‘T-Rex’ – was this in your first or second year of uni…?

    • October 21, 2010
      Reply

      Oh honey, hang in there! At least we can all commiserate with each other! I have to say even just reading the comments on here has made me feel that at least I’m not alone.

      First year uni. You know him. 😉

    • October 21, 2010
      Reply

      Love it, love it, love it. Thanks so much Kate for baring your soul like that. xx

  5. […] My friend Jenny was musing about rejection yesterday over on her Comic Mummy site, and she asked that readers share both their experiences and coping strategies for dealing […]

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