It was another lonely Saturday night, with only a pint of Rocky Road to keep me company. Others may turn to drugs or alcohol, but I stuck to a sweet and creamy respite. I was filled with despair (and ice cream). I had been rejected too many times, and I didn't know if I could take it again. Why did I put myself through this over and over? I was generally happy; perhaps not fulfilled, but at least tolerably content. But here I was again: I had put myself on the line, and was now facing the harsh reality of possibly not being “the one.”
I would have rather gotten the news by phone, but electronic communication was safer, more removed, less emotional for the sender. It was much easier to say no to someone who was nothing more than an electronic ghost. I hoped a message would come today. I found myself obsessively hitting the “refresh” key. Once, twice, thirty times. This was not rational behavior, but I could not help myself. I was eager for some excitement, something to get my heart racing after so many disappointments.
I tried to not think about it. I turned on the TV. “Sex and the City” was on, and one of the characters said, “Puberty is a phase…fifteen years of rejection is a lifestyle.” I flipped on another channel to find Napoleon Dynamite—a reject if I ever saw one. I tried the radio. I wanted Billy Joel's “I Love You Just the Way You Are,” but I got Ben Folds Five's “Song for the Dumped.” I looked at the bookshelf, and saw nothing but romance novels. Not what I needed right now.
In the past, I had tried to attract the attention of popular, flashy types. This time, it seemed like I had found a perfect match. I ran through the sequence of events from last weekend again and again in my mind. I had started things off with a charming introduction that would capture anyone's interest. At least I thought so. Trusted confidants with more experience told me that looking good was crucial. Personally, I had always thought that appearance came second to substance, but in my desperation I had paid attention to every detail. Was it true? Was it form over function, style over substance? In any case, my figure looked good and I was up to date on the latest styles.
Doubt began to creep in as the minutes ticked on. Why did I think this would end well? I began to feel judged and vulnerable. I winced as I remembered the sinking feeling of rejection from the past. Like the droning buzz of your alarm clock on a cold Monday morning, the reality of not being wanted was hard to face. I was no butterfly, just another moth flittering around the cold light of failure. I folded my arms and rested my head on the desk. Why was I doing this to myself? Suddenly, I jolted up at the familiar ding of a new email coming in. A squeal of excitement escaped from my larynx, broke free from my lips, and filled the room with joyous noise. It was the message I had hoped for. I had overcome rejection. I was wanted.
I awoke on Sunday in an unexpected place, with a satisfied smile plastered across my face. I was wearing the same clothes as yesterday. Maybe I should have returned home earlier but somehow I had no regrets. I got up, put my coat on and headed home from the school library still glowing. I had finally gotten my first paper accepted!