As a male from an upper caste and for most part of life upper class too, the one thing privilege never taught me is the ability to deal with rejection. I am not saying growing up I felt entitled to the world, but if someone had to be, who better than me, right?
Recently, a short story I had written got rejected from a publishing house and it felt unreal. As if the rejection itself was something new. The response inside ranged from “what is this strange feeling of sadness that has engulfed me? Tis strange and unique! Have I discovered a new feeling?” to “Me no likey. Daddy, do something”.
Now don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t gotten rejected before. You could say I am the face of rejection only to be rejected from that position because someone else beat me to being the most rejected person and leaving me in some sort of rejection paradox.
But despite being rejected so many times there is a standard way in which I think rejection is dealt with by
so many privileged males me: “a mature manner that puts us me on the path of correction.”
First, of course, is disbelief!
Really? I got rejected? Me, the paramount embodiment of poetic perfection who has been thrust upon this meek world to save them from their miseries and meager lives. Surely this is a joke.
Second is rereading and confirming that an error in The Matrix has occurred.
Me: So, it did happen. This is not a joke I repeat, THIS IS NOT A JOKE. The rejection has taken place.
Also-Me: Pfft! “Rejection”. “Not good enough”. Come on, we know this is a joke.
Me: It’s not a joke. Can you not be an idiot? It really happened.
Me: You can’t psych yourself, that’s not how ‘psych’ works. Other people have to do it. And then you go… That’s not the point. You just got rejected.
Also-me: Dude, you are not playing this game right. You are supposed to come out and say “Got you! Of course you didn’t get rejected you magnificent paragon of the Aryan wet dream.”
Also-Me: You’re no fun.
Third is dealing with the anger stemming from it and blaming the source of rejection.
Ugh! The magazine sucks. They are a C-Grade magazine in every way. Their judges hated me because I am a man. I mean they don’t see me for who I am. Feelings! Lots and lots of feelings! And oh, why are my eyes working out? Is this eye sweat? Are these tears? God! You glorious symphony of the spectrum of emotions! Is there anything you can’t feel?
And the fourth stage is acceptance!
I guess I am not as perfect as I thought I was. I just have to move on from this loss and learn to accept that I am an average human being with no real great qualities and have to wait in line like everyone else. This is the boat I am in and like Pi in Life Of Pi, I must fight my inner demons and be on the path of greatness
Wait, before you think “That is a mature way dealing with rejection. Has this man finally learned?”
You sweet naïve child of mine!
If there is a more potent combination than gulab jamun and ice cream it is privilege and rejection. Just when you think you’ve made peace with rejection, on comes a trigger to send you back to your high throne.
And that is the final stage.
And the trigger can be anything! It could be a friend putting a comforting arm around your shoulder to a waiter giving you little bit of extra coconut chutney. No matter what the trigger, the ending seems to be the same.
“Wow, this extra chutney is the universe telling you that you are a flawless amalgamation of unparalleled artistry.”
“You are a goddamned tiger, that’s what you are. Richard Mukesh Parker! Rawr! Just look at yourself in the mirror, so sinfully stunning and ahead of your times.”
Rawr till your pants drop! Rawr!
The rawr-ing goes on for uncomfortably longer but you get the picture.
And the cycle repeats itself.
I guess it helps that I am an average stand-up comedian who gets rejected ever so often for cracking jokes and that sort of regular rejection helps in dealing with it. But still, it’s a battle I’m yet to win.
And I realised I haven’t even spoken about being rejected by women. Boy, that deserves a book called “Getting Rejected Despite Perfection – The Mystery”. But that is for another day. Let me get published by a C-grade magazine that doesn’t pick me only because I am a privileged male.
Goddamit! I never learn. Do I?