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Making Sense Of Rejection

Every time I go up for a job, write an article or even volunteer for something these few words, spoken so many years ago, still ring in my ears like a bad Vanilla Ice song.

I had always gone to this snooty, Girbaud wearing, Ray-ban toting, have to have the right last name with a new car to go along with it, kind of school. It was awful. There wasn’t much I was given a chance to do. Even in the sixth grade, I wanted to be a junior-high cheerleader. And at that time, there were no such thing as try-outs, so that no one got their feelings hurt. But, who was called into the principal’s office to discuss other opportunities? That would be me.

It didn’t get any better as the years went on. There was an elite group of people that was on every committee. If you didn’t make it in with them, you were predetermined to never get on anything significant. When I got into high school, I did try out for dance line and got in. I even went on to be a Universal Dance Association All-Star and was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Where was that principal now? Ha! I proved her didn’t I? Anyway, those two short years of dancing were quickly taken away from yet another authority in my life. At this time, I was beginning to get a passion for writing. Small high schools don’t offer much in the field of journalism other than yearbook, so I thought, “Heck, why not, I should try out for this.”     

I signed up my name and waited eagerly for my first assignment. Would it be the homecoming court? No, no, no—it ranged from being an expose into cafeteria food to covering the new scandal coming forth from the teachers lounge. Whatever it was, I was still up for the challenge. It wasn’t long before I heard back from the yearbook sponsor.

“Kelly, I need to talk to you,” the sponsor said. Wow, I can’t believe she’s coming directly to me to give me something to do. She’s not even using her editor. It’s her, in person! I smiled nervously waiting to hear in what way I would contribute to the team.

“I really don’t think the yearbook is something you need to be a part of,” she said. “You can’t do this. You don’t work well with others.”

What! I don’t work well with others? I’ll show you working well after I smack you upside the head. Okay, so maybe she was a little right. But I could learn to work with others. Practice makes perfect right? My heart was crushed. Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t able to hear the rest of her lecture over my lack of social skills, over the sound of my dreams shattering.

My proverbial bubble of a semi-normal junior year in high school had quickly burst and I was faced with the reality of failure yet again. I thought to myself, am I really this much of a loser? I can’t even do yearbook. Even the most nerdish individual make yearbook.  And most people aren’t even proud to say they are on yearbook staff

Needless to say, this was the last straw for my parents. Just about 8 years earlier my brother had been told the same exact thing at the same exact school. He got over it though and managed to become an editor for the Arizona State University Yearbook, where he received a bachelor degree from the Walter Cronkite School of journalism.

It’s funny how things like this mold you into who you become in the future. I could have taken those rejections and let them overcome me; become a bitter person and give up on every dream I had. Or, I could let them make me a stronger person. That year, my parents took me out of private school and even took up residency in another parish just so I would be able to attend public school.

It wasn’t long until I realized, nice classmates do exist and people like me. My finest moment however, was my second year on yearbook staff. I became the editor. Victory was mine and I couldn’t wait to smear it in that old yearbook sponsors face. No, I didn’t. Not to say that my mom didn’t every chance she got, but I couldn’t. Romans 12:19 states that revenge belongs to God. Contextually, this isn’t talking about God’s wrath on that poor yearbook sponsor, but it is talking to people who were wronged. I just kept thinking, I deserved to be on that yearbook staff. There was more talent in my pinky finger than all of their staff members combined. Wonder why I never got on there? Maybe I needed to learn a little humility. 

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Everything that happened at private school was hard. There weren’t too many happy days. But, it did make me a much better person. While in high school, I worked on the largest newspaper in northeast Louisiana, received a journalism scholarship to the college I was attending in the fall and eventually became the weekend producer for the NBC affiliate in town.

It would have been so easy to let that teacher have it. But, we have to walk in acceptance and forgiveness. I didn’t miss out on anything. All of my dreams are coming true. She just missed out on one good yearbook staff member that year.

[Kelly is a 23-year-old who received a bachelor degree in journalism from Louisiana Tech University. Currently she works with Chi Alpha campus ministries at the national headquarters in Springfield, Mo. She is also a part-time associate editor of a children’s magazine.]

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