The Art Of Dealing With Rejection

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.

Also-Me: PSYCH!

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?



All Choices are Equal But Some are Just Classier

I recently caught myself doing something I was quite ashamed of. I cried myself to sleep thinking I’m going to die in abject poverty while my parents tell everyone that they never had a son. That was supposed to go into my diary. Sorry about that! I recently caught myself laughing at a young cousin who said he really liked the songs of Emmy awards rejector Mika Singh (that guy who is called when concert organizers can’t afford Honey Singh). The reasons I felt ashamed were two fold: first, only a couple of years ago I was that kid with my own favourite regional pop-culture icons and second, it reminded me how I had ended up on the other end of the diameter. Let me explain!

As a child who grew up on Bhopal Gas Tragedy amounts of regional pop-culture, it upsets me a little when regional films don’t get their fair share of credit. Of course, sometimes the comical depths to which regional films sink to will make Steven Spielberg want to dive legs first into a sugarcane juice machine while giving Salman Khan a career. What bothers me about the lack of respect for regional films is that, it reflects a larger disrespect for the connections that people make with pieces of culture and literature that may not be the hippest thing around.

A friend of mine laughed at me when I said that I actually enjoyed reading Chetan Bhagat’s 2 States.

Me: If you think about it is not such a bad book. I mean there are quite a few moments that will make you go lolz roflmao trololololol (which is also how I think people of Uzbekistan speak: chant dubstep from their epiglottis)!

Friend: Comrade, the hermeneutics of stereotypes are unexamined as his writing style is unpardonable because an epileptic Ramchandra Guha playing scrabble would have written a better novel than 2 States. Blistering barnacles! Thundering typhoons! These humour writers are crazy!

Me (*puff puff*): What is hermeneutics? Advanced herpes?

Friend: GRE swag!

It upset me a bit because although I’m not your average Shashi Tharoor, I do enjoy my Murakami as much as my Chacha Chaudhary and Nitin Gadkari Raja Hooja (somewhere in heaven Anant Pai just gave Pran a legendary high five). I am not trying to defend the writing style of Chetan Bhagat or his tweets. For all I know somewhere in the depths of hell, Lord Macaulay has the smuggest smile on his face while being burnt to a crisp thepla. But a little more tolerance, with respect to tastes, could be a lot more helpful to people who might be suffering from a lack of confidence because they think their tastes are weaker. Definitely, I am no saint and on a scale of one to hypocrite I am currently Anupam Kher.

Laughing at people who have “inferior” tastes in music or literature is just a way of laughing at the lack of opportunities that people might not have had while growing up. Although we are saying “Haha you listen only to Honey Singh and watch only Kannada movies” the underlying message is “Bro. Like my life has had access to more things than you bro. Tum basically gareeb ho! But like even in taste also. Like you and the Indian hockey team should hang out to share your interests about things that we really shouldn’t give a shit about. I mean you are the first educated person in the family? That’s crazy. Like when my grandfather was studying na, your grandfather was busy introducing spin bowling to Amir Khan.”

And I know it is titillating to reform the choices of other people but remember that none of us are really Manmohan Singh from the early 90s (#paidattentioninEconomicsclassSwag). So the next time, we see someone enjoying a piece of culture that it embarrasses us and makes us cringe, remember that our opinion is basically an Aarti Chhabria. Don’t even bother Googling her name because the point was to show how irrelevant our opinion is. But on the other hand if you do know her, then you fellow human being, are not a Bollywood fanatic but a connoisseur, gourmet, a ménage de trois le fafda, a Bhogle that belongs to the House Harsha.

All this applies as long as they aren’t Bhojpuri music and movies. That is where we draw the line!