Rejection Can Suck

By A. P. Joye

Today, I got a rejection from the first place I’ve ever paid to submit to. And it hit me hard, even though I’ve been posting videos making light of rejection. My goal is to open up a conversation about rejection—part of that means that I make jokes about my experience with rejection and post educational videos about the failure of rejection (also known as rejection sensitivity).

However, it still hurts and, while sharing my journey on TikTok has helped to make it feel less like the end of the world, it’s only fair that I share the not-so-funny moments along with the funny lip-synced videos.

This will be the third rejection I’ve gotten recently and I wasn’t expecting to hear from the literary magazine for a while. So, when I got the email, I almost didn’t know what I was clicking on.

Scrolling through my email, I saw the infamous Submittable subject line that always reads “RE: [Name of Lit Mag Here]” and I didn’t feel anything because I didn’t know what I was about to read. When I got to the first line about them being sorry the news wasn’t better, it sucked. I wanted to dissolve into the floor and go to sleep for long enough that I would be able to forget this ever happened—possibly even rue the day I spent a whole $3 on that submission. Of course, I don’t regret submitting and I believe their rejection letter was one of the kindest and most necessary I’ve read, but, you know, the whole “sour grapes” thing and all.

Lastly, I want to say thank you for being here with me. I hope my sharing helps you the same way it helps me. I’ll admit, when I read the first line of that rejection (then reread it a few times to make sure I was understanding correctly), I started wondering if I could actually write—hello, Imposter Syndrome, my old friend.

I wondered if I should quit writing after I graduate and stop trying to making anything out of myself as a writer. Quitting is easier than writing and failing, isn’t it? It’s less painful if nothing else.

Then, I read the last line of the rejection letter:

We encourage you to keep writing, keep sending work out, and to never stop because of rejections.

Anonymous Magazine

That line re-centered me. But, what I’m most proud of in this moment? The fact that I noticed myself spiraling and I let it happen for a moment because, sometimes, spiraling feels better than noticing it and stopping it.

I re-centered myself by remembering a phrase that I’ve found useful lately: Stay in peace.

I hope that phrase brings you peace. Follow my TikTok for videos like the one below.

@apjoye This hit harder than the others. Sharing with you has made this feel less like the end of the world. I hope you get something from my videos as much as I get from creating them for you. #writersoftiktok #writertok #rejection ♬ original sound – A. P. Joye