I Am Not Regina Spektor, and other thoughts on Rejection

13 Sep

I did what I said I wouldn’t:  I got my hopes up.

Because, seriously?  How amazing would it have been to sing with Ben Folds, with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, at the Meyerson Theater?  How incredible would it have felt to sing the Regina Spektor part on the (self-proclaimed ‘disturbed and bouncy’) song “You Don’t Know Me” in front of 2,062 people?  

Pretty amazing, I bet.  

There is about a 99.5% chance I won’t get to find out how it feels, though, because I was not one of the three girls chosen.  I am an alternate.  It’s still cool to be an alternate, don’t get me wrong¹ — but what are the chances a girl will get sick or break her leg or whatever?  

I’m trying, really trying, not to get more bent out of shape over this than I should.  I should know from past experience that when I get passed over for something, which happens to me more often than not, it truly is for the best.

I’ve been thinking how my life would be different, had I gotten everything I ever wanted.  That life, that person I would be, is not the same as the person I am today. 

If I had gotten everything I tried for, I would have been a popular girl in high school, who got all the scholarships she applied for instead of none.  With that scholarship money, I would have gone to a different university instead of moving to this place that has totally shaped me.  

Let’s just say I ended up here, anyway, though.  I would have married the 100% wrong guy for me, instead of the sweetest man on earth who popped into my life a few years later.  I would have been working some corporate political job that is not me in the slightest.  I would have been promoted to a manager at places like Chick-Fil-A and the bank and Starbucks.  Then, I would have been tempted to stick around and be Important at places I didn’t want to be.  Oh, yeah, and I would have made it onto American Idol, where I’d be the focus of television cameras for a year and sucked into a, well, sucky and consuming contract that works out not-so-much in my favor.

Looking at it that way, that is not the life I want.  But, looking back, those are all things I was disappointed I didn’t get, when I got passed over in favor of someone else. 

Flaws and failures and all, I’d rather be this person.  This girl, who is married to a kind, thoughtful sweetheart who encourages me to pursue my passions.  This girl, who knows she has something to offer the world even though – so far – the world has generally overlooked her.  This girl, who is determined to write a novel that will, one day, change the world, even if it only changes the world of one person.  This girl, who knows that when the time comes and someone notices, she’ll appreciate it a thousand times more than she would have if she always got every single thing she ever dreamed of attaining.

So, why do I still get bent out of shape when things don’t happen like I hope they will?  Probably because they’re awesome opportunities like singing on stage with Ben Folds in front of thousands, and because it hurts my pride.

I think these experiences are part of why I love outcasts, why I root for the underdog, why I write about the people who have great things to offer, but need to stop believing what the world tells them is true.  I write these things, because I know them all too well.  I guess that’s the little bit of sweet that comes from bittersweet rejection – the ability to be where I’ve ended up, writing about things I know with truth and authority, hoping it will inspire people to believe in themselves despite discouraging circumstances.


¹Except the part where one girl who got a spot sang horrendously out of tune, and another girl sang the bass note (instead of the alto note…) on her entire audition.  I’m a little bitter, because not only did I take the time to perfect my part, I got it in by the deadline, too.  I will force myself to stop this rant before I cry again, like (most of) yesterday.


17 Responses to “I Am Not Regina Spektor, and other thoughts on Rejection”

  1. Laura Best Sunday / 13 September 09 at 6:55 pm #

    You know what? You’re right. Being chose as an alternate is pretty darn cool. And to even have had the chance to be considered sounds amazing to me and the fact that you had the courage to put yourself out there like that. Wow!

    Rejection is never easy. In fact it sucks! I know only too well and some rejections are harder than others. We tell ourselves that we won’t let it bother us , we even try to convince ourselves that we won’t be disappointed. But when it comes, the disappointment is still there.

    What helps me now when rejection comes is the thought, the faith in knowing that rejection is not a permanent thing and just because one publisher didn’t want my work doesn’t mean the next one won’t. And you really weren’t rejected you were chosen as an alternate. More opportunities are out there waiting for you.

    Congrats on being an alternate!

  2. Merrilee Sunday / 13 September 09 at 8:13 pm #

    What’s more important is that you had the courage to get up there and give it your all. We have to reach for the stars, even if we don’t catch them.

    The day you stop reaching is the day you fail.

    Now, go have another good cry, eat some cookies and then go out and do something fun. 🙂

  3. xxhawkeyexx Sunday / 13 September 09 at 8:38 pm #

    I know that rejection is harsh and sucks, but to have the courage to stand there and give it your best is enough.
    You are just one step closer to you dream, wanna know why?
    Because you took that one step most people won’t and, even though you weren’t in first place, doesn’t mean you won’t be a first place in something even bigger and better.
    It’s okay to cry, but don’t give up! Stand up and keep walking the path you choose. If that’s your dream…follow it and KEEP trying. Or is it just a vague and weak desire or yours?
    Good luck, take care,

  4. owlandsparrow Monday / 14 September 09 at 9:57 am #

    You guys! You are all so sweet. Thank you abundantly for the kind words of encouragement, everyone, and you are right – having courage to get out there and try is a big deal, and being an alternate is still pretty cool. I appreciate you all taking the time to remind me of those things. I’m feeling better today.

  5. Patti Monday / 14 September 09 at 12:48 pm #

    I agree with Merrilee. It’s better to try and fail then to never have tried at all. I think that’s how that quote goes. There’s so many things in my life I regret not trying because I was afraid of failure. You’re a great example and sometimes things work out for the best when things don’t go our way.

    • owlandsparrow Saturday / 19 September 09 at 8:07 pm #

      Thanks, Patti. 🙂 Ever since I wrote this post, it’s been in the back of my head. I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with the fact that things happen for a reason, even when I don’t know why they work out like they do.

  6. Pat Bertram Monday / 14 September 09 at 2:02 pm #

    Even if past rejection turned out to be a positive thing does not mean that present rejection is any easier to take. One thing I learned while enduring hundreds of rejections from agents and editors is that there is something worse than having to deal with rejection — it’s getting used to rejection. If you get used to rejection, you begin to beleive that you deserve it. And that’s the worst rejection of all — the rejection of your self. Luckily, before I fell into that trap, I found a publisher who loves my books.

    • owlandsparrow Saturday / 19 September 09 at 8:10 pm #

      Ahhh. Thank you, Pat. It’s so true – I know in my head that rejection can be positive, but when it happens, it still stings. It’s stories like yours that remind me, over and over again, people put quality stuff out there and it gets rejected for no apparent reason (and a lot of behind-the-scenes reasons we don’t get to know about). I’m so glad you got published before rejection got the better of you. That’s inspiring, and thank you for sharing.

  7. sarahsophia Tuesday / 15 September 09 at 11:13 am #

    Congratulations on being an alternate! It’s an amazing achievement! I know how you feel about being upset, I had very similar experiences with piano playing. Dreamed of playing in Carnegie Hall. But I think about it, and that life, the constant practice and pressure, the fear of one slip of the finger..it’s not a fulfilling life. Fulfilling to my dream yes, but not to who I am. I found that life has its own way of using our gifts. I can now play for pleasure, at churches and banquets, and the greatest part, teaching my daughter to play:)
    Also.. Judges are only people. Just because they’re a judge doesn’t mean they’re an expert! Everything is a matter of preference, opinion. Doesn’t mean they’re right. Turn on the radio, half of what’s on, in my opinion, isn’t even music!

    • owlandsparrow Saturday / 19 September 09 at 8:19 pm #

      Thanks for the encouragement and congratulations, Sarah! Yes, I totally understand where you’re coming from on the Carnegie Hall thing…such pressure there, indeed. I think I feel the same way about music as you – which is one reason I decided to pursue the writing route instead. The lifestyle of a writer is much different than that of a professional musician. I love to sing and play piano/guitar, but like you, I’d rather do it for pleasure than pressuring myself to center my life around it.

      I agree with you – so much of what’s on the radio these days is, for lack of a nicer word, over-processed, unmelodic, uninspired crap.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment 🙂 It’s good to hear from you, and best of luck with the homeschooling process!

  8. jenniferneri Tuesday / 22 September 09 at 8:30 pm #

    You have a lot of encouragement here, owl and sparrow! My optimist! It is one of the things that keep me coming back to this blog.

    I also think that people have difficulties when things do not go as expected because we are conditioned to be that way. We are in a culture of immediate gratification and at times it can be difficult to move past this. (I hope I am not going too psychologist on you there!)

    Congratulations – you should be proud of yourself!

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 23 September 09 at 10:32 am #

      Thanks, Jennifer! I’ve missed you. You are so right, we live in such an ‘instant gratification culture’ – people don’t like to work for things in a culture where you can order a triple grande, two-thirds-decaf, nonfat, 177-degree, with-whipped-cream caramel mocha, and have it handed to you in less than a couple minutes. And, even if we know that things take time, and hard work, and all that good stuff, it’s still natural to feel disappointed at that process because we see instant results all around us. Ahhh. You always get me thinking! 🙂

  9. islesam Wednesday / 23 September 09 at 9:15 am #

    First – I always get amazed when other people acknowledge Regina Spektor. I love her! Not nearly enough people do.

    I hate rejection, but you make a very valid point. Over the past few years, I DID get a few things I wanted & HOLY MOTHER they were NOT what I should have wanted. It made me marry the completely wrong person and gave me a life I hated. Then I got pregnant – NOT what I wanted – & it is without a doubt the most amazing thing I’ve ever had happen in my life. It’s hard to remember, though, that it all works out in the end. I’m still trying to hold on to that now, when I’m not getting ANYTHING I want. At all. Good things are coming, though. You’ll see 🙂

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 23 September 09 at 10:39 am #

      YES! She’s amazing. I love, love, love how creative she is – she’s got such a powerful, unique sound & feel to her music. So glad to find someone else who appreciates her, too!

      Thanks for sharing your experiences! From reading your blog, I sensed we might have some common ground with this subject. I’m so glad you’re writing again, despite your past experiences with rejection and unsupportive people. You’re so right – good things are indeed coming, even though we can’t always see why things happen the way they do, and when it’s hard to remember in the moment.

      • islesam Thursday / 24 September 09 at 10:30 am #

        Thank you! 🙂

        I’m really glad you stumbled across my blog – I really enjoy reading yours! & the encouragement is 150% appreciated. I feel like I’m in a much better place to start this now.


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