I am the rejection queen. I don’t administer too many rejections myself, but I have become an expert at receiving them. Especially the big rejections – the ones that have a larger life impact, that can sway how the rest of your day, week, even year could go. And it’s not something I ever foresaw myself being able to handle really, because at heart I am a pretty sensitive person, who used to be very impacted by the opinions of others. But I suppose age and practice really do make perfect. Or they make for mild desensitisation; it’s unclear.
I like to think of myself as a writer, first and foremost and ultimately. It’s how I would like to be viewed, what I would like to spend all of my days doing eventually. So my affinity for rejection is a helpful ally, because most of being a writer is being rejected 95% of the time. These days I can brush off a rejection of a piece I’ve submitted to a literary mag or agency pretty quickly – give me 24 hours and I’ll be over it. I have an internal reset button.
But I don’t want to get used to the lifesize rejections. The ones that have the potential to change the course of my future. And I’ve been experiencing a lot of that lately as I wait, more often than not in what feels like vain, for an invitation to apply for an Australian visa.
Every month I check the online system on the designated invite day, hoping and praying that this time when I click on the status section, I will see the words written there clearly; INVITED.
Seven letters, three syllables, all my current hopes contained in this small word. But so far, there has been nothing. After almost 12 months of waiting, there has been nothing. So I tried to move things along myself, retaking my English test to see if I could boost my points – literally taking a test to assess how well I speak, read, write and listen in the only language that I know. It cost money and time, and the results were another small but significant rejection.
I increased my grades in the areas I had gotten less in the last time around, back when I hadn’t really studied and rested on my laurels. This time I smashed it, I had studied, worked hard, except this wasn’t reflected in my writing grade. WRITING. Did I mention that I consider myself a writer and English is legitimately the only language that I speak? I was flabbergasted by the result, a brand new but completely unexpected spanner in the works. I didn’t even pause over the rejection I felt, planning instead to appeal the result and demand a re-marking of that part of the test that I was the most confident in, that in a prior test I had of course passed with flying colours.
But those feelings of rejection lingered on anyway, despite my principles telling me that I was right to demand a review, even if it would cost me more money and six more weeks. Rejection now whispered into my ear – maybe it’s time to give up on this idea? It’s obviously not meant to be. Just pick somewhere else to go?
Rejection wants me to give up, and big chunks of me want that too, because I am beginning to wonder how much rejection a person is supposed to accept before they throw in the towel to protect their battered, bruised and hopeful heart.
I think my personal timeline is running close to the end, and I don’t have a new timeline in mind that I can build. Going somewhere else is not as easy as it sounds. I fear I won’t find the things in Melbourne that I found in myself, anywhere else. And some days London feels like cruel and unusual punishment, other days it feels like my old home. But both aspects leave me feeling extremely unsettled. I know there is a seed of unhappiness, just waiting to be watered by me giving up on my goal, so that it can grow and settle inside of me, and make me hard and cynical as I once was. I don’t want that. But I also don’t know how you keep going, when every attempt to move forward is met by another blockade and a sign to indicate you should take another direction.
All I have is a timeline, and no back up plan. And a growing pile of rejections.
Image credit: Dislike by Mat fine from the Noun Project