“There’s no great loss without some small gain.”
— Little House on the Prairie
In this life, there will be many signs which point you on your way. There will be stop signs telling you to slow down, to enjoy this life you’ve been given. There will be street signs pointing you toward home. Most importantly, there will be those exit signs that take you on a bit of a detour. These may show up as rejection letters or breakups — anything that leads you away.
You will have many choices. You can sink into the sadness; you might even crave the wallowing for a week or so. You can stay here, in a perpetual pit of unhappiness, or you can move forward. Take that exit sign toward something new.
This year has been a year of rejection for me personally. I’m sure you might have been disappointed somehow, too. While I have an amazing support system filled with family and friends who are there to tell me it’s okay, it was not those important people in my life telling me there was something better waiting who got me all the way through. It felt as if those words, as kind as they may be, were only there to nullify my disappointment — erase the evidence before it felt too real. But the fact is that I needed to feel that pain to gain anything from it.
Thinking back to the other moments in my life when I’ve been disappointed — to the relationships that have not been easy, to the deadlines, to broken pieces of myself I lost long ago — proved to be crucial in curing my disappointment. This is what helped me get back up and moving toward the next goal, the next dream. Knowing that I’d moved on from such disappointments in the past was like knowing the ending of a story; it makes reading through the difficult parts easier the second time around.
While I’ve felt some great losses this year with the rejection of every fellowship I’ve applied to and almost every magazine I’ve sent my work to, I know that I have gained something. In my writing, I’ve gained time to revise — to make my stories better than they ever were before I sent them off. I got to know how strong I could be in facing failure. I got to know myself again this year without the deadlines and the accomplishments, and I realized I am a dreamer.
I think that is beautiful.
I have come to accept my flaws, and in doing so, I’ve become fearless in the face of failure.
So if you find yourself in the midst of disappointment or rejection or heartbreak, try to find the light slicing through the blinds in the morning. Try to find the goodness within yourself. Just keep trying, and you will do great things. And remember: An exit isn’t always the end.