Owning rejection

To my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah. I envy you right now. You are in the midst of celebration. The prep work is mostly over.

churchill-giving-quote1I on the other hand-made the mistake of looking at today’s date. There are only seven days left until Christmas! I hope you did a better job of managing your personal shopping calendar than I did this holiday season. While I managed to check off many names from my shopping list, I still have a few presents to go and am nearly out of time. I would like to apologize to those recipients in advance. From this point on some gifts may be more thoughtful than others depending on what is still in stock on the shelves or what can ship on time.

This rush of panic is one of the few downsides of having an above average sized family. I have two much younger brothers. I was grown and out of the house before they were even talking. As a result, there have been several years that I didn’t have a clue what to give them. How would I know what a young boy would want? Before they came around our entire house had been girl-centric. I would try my best, but often as I watched them unwrap their gifts, I would learn that my guess was wrong in the exquisitely blunt and honest terms that only preschoolers and/or extreme elderly can get away with.

All I could do was plaster a smile on my face and try not to take their rejection too personally. They didn’t know that I had spent three lunch breaks staring at rows of toys only to return with empty hands and an empty stomach. They didn’t know about the traffic related stress I had been exposed to, the hours I spent on the internet researching gift guides, or the impromptu co-worker polls I had conducted to find the thing I eventually gave them. All they knew was the box in front of them didn’t contain what they were looking for and told me so. I assume they were only trying to help me do better next Christmas (or their next birthday, whichever came first).

Giving gifts to small kids who aren’t your own during the holidays can teach you a lot about how to handle rejection in general.

This experience repeated itself over a few years. Gradually though, I either learned how to better anticipate what they would like (or they learned better tact). I grew a thicker skin. I learned how to rebound after rejection. It can still hurts like heck at the time of impact, but I’ve learned that there will almost always be another year, another time to try again. Most importantly I learned how to, um…, ask them what they wanted (I know – who has time to waste finding out pesky details like wishlist requirements).

So I know I can handle rejection. I’ve learned to finding a way to spin it in a positive light. I don’t just handle it. I’ve learned to own it. Rejection, after all, is just another means to help you figure out exactly what it is you really want in life. But I still really do not like it. I might even say I go out of my way to avoid it if I can.

But recently I’ve started asking myself why?

Since the birth of my children, I’ve had toys and books hurled at me, been peed, pooped, and puked on. I’ve had a little voice scream in my ear ‘NO!’  and ‘Bad Mommy!’ as I carry my son to his bed before he thinks he is ready (I’ve developed a bit of a constant ring in one ear). Why then should I let a little thing like a piece of paper with a no thanks on it or a negative review get me down? I’ve experienced far worse.

If there is only seven more days until Christmas, that means the New Year is just around the corner.

I may be completely behind in my holiday prep, but I can get a head start on my New Year’s Resolutions. In 2015, I am resolving to put myself out there more. To do more with my writing goals. I am going to submit my work to one to two more contests than I did in 2014 (yes, this is a quantity greater than 0 – I just haven’t heard back from the judges yet). I may even submit my work to an agent or larger publishing house (I might not sign with them, but I wouldn’t mind seeing what they have to offer).

Oh… and I might actually finish my shopping on time next year.