The worst thing about rejection

The worst thing about getting a rejection is not the fact that someone out there read your work and didn’t like it, didn’t think it was a “fit” with their publication, or thought it was awful. No, the worst thing about getting a rejection is that brief second or less than a second before you open the rejection letter, that moment in which your ever-optimistic imagination, despite all your attempts to reign it in, lets you believe that just this one time, you’ve received an acceptance, and your heart surges a little, and then, as you read the letter, sinks. Because it’s just another rejection after all.

I got my first email rejection yesterday. It was a mass email, in which all rejectees were bcc’d. Because I have never received an email rejection before, when I saw the “from” and subject lines in my inbox, I actually let myself think I might have received an acceptance. After all, when you get those thin letters in the snailmailbox, you kind of know they are rejections, right? There seemed so much more possibility in that unopened email.


4 thoughts on “The worst thing about rejection

  1. I just got my emailed rejection letter from Yale and I totally know what you mean about the split second before opening that you think this might be it. I wasn’t even all that jazzed about Yale anyway, but for some reason, I feel like this is a failure. And the strange part about it, is that if I get too worked up about it, I’ll feel like I’m making it a bigger deal that it needs to be, but then if I don’t get worked up, I’ll feel like I’m kidding myself.

    But maybe the worst part about rejection letters is that they never tell you why you were rejected. Just a mail-merged email/letter that leaves it up to your imagination. Man, rejections sucks!

  2. Oh, I know this feeling well! I’m so naive, I get that little leap in my heart EVERY time, no matter how many times I’ve opened a letter (or email) only to discover the rejection. Will I never learn?!

  3. When I applied to MFA programs, I got an e-mail rejection — cc’d to all recipients. That’s right, hundreds of rejected applicants, all looking at each-others email addresses. Strangely, it immediately formed a collegial (if pissed) crew.

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