Thursday, August 20, 2020

Rejection: does it make you or break you?


Have you ever felt the insides of your gut churn so violently that you are sure the intestinal walls have convoluted into a vortex—a sinking, gutted, dark vortex that will only stop once it has buried you deep in the Earth’s core?

Saturday, 16th August 2020
It started last night.

24 hours later, and the whirlpool inside me rages and whirls and tornadoes round and round.

I want it to stop.

But then my heart which has been beating faster than it has ever beaten--even faster than that time my lips had touched his for the first time!

Okay, that happened a long time ago, but still--the dhak, dhak, dhak of my heartbeat drumming against my ear drums had erupted with the ferociousness of first love--after we’d kissed, however, the heart had found its usual rhythm again.


But this time it hasn’t stopped its somersaults since Friday night.

What’s happening to me?

All I did was: sent my story for a story-telling competition; got picked for a regional round; learnt my story by heart and performed it in front of a panel--zooming into my own eyes on my laptop screen. The little camera light on top kept blinking throughout -- reminding me that I was being watched and judged.

Now, I’m waiting for the results---anxiously, neurotically, obsessively. Not at all like my calm, cool as a cucumber veneer that the world sees. Not at all.

Inside, I'm this mixer-grinder: crushing hot, red chillies on and on; the sharp blades slicing through my invisible expectations: will I? won't I?

Outside, I am visiting a friend who’s had a knee surgery recently: even cracking a naughty joke to cheer him up.

Every opportunity I get, I check my Instagram feed--on the sly--hiding my newly developed obsession from my own judging eyes.

I search for the organiser's insta--refresh their page. No news.

Stop it Arti! I admonish myself. Show yourself the face you show the world--be the badass bindaas optimist you’ve always claimed to be.

Why? What’s the matter? It's not so easy when it hits home, is it? Why is this bothering me so much? I ask my sanity.

Is it the long, long lockdown? Has it turned me into a self-obsessed, inward looking narcissist? 

No matter how soundly my own logic supports common sense, my ears refuse to listen. I can’t help it.

Night falls. No results.

“It’s a tough call”, a WhatsApp message on the participants' group chat says. "You were all so good!" it says.

It doesn’t make a jot of a difference to my pummelling gut.

Others on the group are pouring their hearts out; making connections, sharing stories they wrote.

I’m feeling quietly confident about my story--despite the drumming in my ears--so, I play the mother (a role I love to play) and send out some congratulatory direct messages. It calms me down.

Secretly, I’m very, very hopeful about my own chances. Those fairy lights I so artistically put in my rattan pot should’ve done the trick. They did say make the background interesting.

My story spoke about how my life had unravelled when I was 19. A mother’s suicide, a father’s betrayal and step-motherly treatment were the plot points of my story.

I’ve only recently reconciled with my father. What if he objects to my story when I make it to the finals? Will we become estranged again? I weave webs of future possibilities entangled with past injustices.

Night falls. We’re told the results will be announced the next morning. I put my phone in the other room to help break this silly new habit of checking it every half an hour.

Sunday, 17th August 2020
It's 2:30 am. I can sense my phone is missing me. I get up and bring it back to my bedside table.
I toss and turn and try to get some sleep. I drift off for a bit.

I'm up before sunrise.

My gut is a pit--it’s churning.

My heart is a mess--it’s burning.

My mail inbox blinks with the address line. It’s from them. I open it.

The first line reads:‘Hope you’re well.’


The bile rises like Doha temperature in summer.


My saliva tastes like sour grapes.


My ricocheting heart frees itself from my rib cage and slides down the chair’s legs-- the chair I'm sitting on. It feels like fresh cement drying, heavily.

I wish I was Hailey of Modern Families who would say: "Don’t keep me in suspense! Tell me! Did I make it?" whenever one of her family read the first line of her college application reply: “We regret to inform you….”

Every molecule and every fibre of my being was expecting to read : "Congratulations!" not “Hope you’re well.” 

How can I be well after reading this??

Pray, do tell.

I type out: “Congratulations--All the best.” on the WhatsApp group chat.

One or two winners respond with: "We are all winners."

I smirk. Only a winner would write that.

More ‘congratulations’ float in--mostly typed out in pain (I think) by others like me whose stories and performances didn’t cut the mustard in the regional rounds.

A fog of self-doubt is threatening to settle around. I get up and fix myself a super strong cup of coffee--even through the fog I remember to add coconut oil--skin to fog mein bhi dihktee hai na—dhyaan to rakhna padega.

But instead of dissipating the fog, the coffee acts like an electric charge. Now all of me is reverberating like a phone on silent mode: buzzing aimlessly in all directions.

Yoga. I think. 

Yes, a good stretch and a few deep breaths will shake me out of this 'self-imposed-pity-party-monologue'.

I share the rejection with Giselle, my yoga teacher.

She smiles and I feel her love.

I’m in locust pose when my phone starts buzzing--silently. My bag dances on the floor. My phone never rings during yoga class.

I check. It’s Vidya. I’ll call her back, I think and resume the locust.

“I thought they were calling to say they’ve made a mistake.” Giselle whispers.

“You and I belong to the same galaxy--forever the optimists.” I tell her while transitioning from locust to downward dog.

“Why not?” She says.

I nod looking at my navel.

A head stand should help me change my perspective.

At least you made it to the regional round. 1500 applications. Imagine! How wonderful!

Dhadaaam! My pesky perspective is lying sprawled out on the mat with me.

“What happened Arti?” Giselle sounds worried.

I have never fallen off like that.

It's a Sunday of firsts, I amuse myself with that thought and reply,“I lost my focus.”  

“Get a hold of yourself woman--what’s gotten into you?” I tell myself cocooned in child pose.

Yoga is over. 

I start my car and drive off. I reach the barrier too soon. It refuses to lift. The security guard looks at me. He’s miffed. My usual over exaggerated waving hand to say bye is missing today. He signals me to reverse, a little more, a little more…enough distance later, the barrier relents and lifts to let me go.

Eureka!

Ping!

The light bulb comes on. 

Distance, woman--take a few steps back, back off a bit. Then try again.

The fog flops over and starts to settle down around the accelerator pedal of my car. A cautious driver, usually, I can’t wait to get home to face my rejection head on.

Park car. Lock car. Turn keys. Mask off. Sing Mahamrityunjaya mantra to ensure the hand-washing is taking its stipulated time. Dry hands. Run to the laptop. Start typing.
I can and I will.

Rejection may be plucking my heart strings and serenading songs of mein bechaaree –a duet with my bruised ego, but my spirit--the one that shines through me and blasts out to the world that it’s not over till the fat lady sings is making sure I write this story out--my story  out and send it as a wild card entry.

Perhaps rejection was the spice that was missing from my first entry.

Perhaps it’s time to pickle that rejection and turn it into a projection.

Feminism ka sirf gaana nahin gaana hai. Feminist ban kar dikhana hai.

Shakti and Kali didn’t sit and cry when things didn’t go their way. They picked a different weapon and carried on.

Agar dil tootega nahin to shaayree kaise niklegee? 

What better instrument to write with than a broken heart?

I write. I record. I send my wild card entry at literally the last minute.

Wednesday,19th August 2020
Another "Hope you're well." mail greeted me today.

But, this time it didn't sting as much.


************************

I've come to the conclusion that experiences such as the one I went through this past week are my 'quality checks' sent to me by the universe. Just when I was lulling myself into believing that I'm so cool about working for the joy of it, not needing any pats on backs, doing it all in Krishna's name, for it is the Spirit that guides me and She who does it all and I just get the credit. Why! I had been reading and understanding the Gita all through the lockdown. OMG! I am so sorted now. 

Dhadaam---just when that egoistic self-congratulatory voice makes a hammock out of you and swings on you--plays you like a spinning top--such occurrences blow in like  tornadoes. tip you out of that comfy hammock and say: 

the work is never done--keep going--keep going--keep going.

What are your thoughts about rejection? Is work enough? Or is acceptance part of the game?
Are we more in need of acceptance of others when we are insecure?
Or is it the essence of art?
jungle mein mor naachaa kisne dekha?

Does rejection rock the boat
or does it keep one afloat?

Does a story need a reader/listener to be called a story?
Or can it survive in isolation?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Rumi, adrak wali chai and stunning sunsets work in tandem to nudge me closer to my equilibrium. 
I can't thank them enough:)

Stay safe and well dear ones.
I'm so grateful that you take the time to read these posts.
Much love.
Arti 
xx

18 comments:

  1. Arti..Where do I begin... Your candid, straight from the heart post has struck a chord for sure. Rejection is a part of a writer's life. I've faced several of those in the past four to five years. It was hard to accept initially but gradually I began taking rejection as just any normal thing that happened to me. Is that proof enough that my writing got rejected several times. In fact Damyanti once told me...Don't call it rejected work. It's just that some people passed on it. I do see your present phase. I've been there at times... All jittery and thinking of the result all the time. But it's only momentarily. I do get back to writing for the joy of it, more often than not. And if those slight aberrations from the Gita paath wouldn't be there, I would be no less than Krishna! And hey, I'm okay being human. Haha! I do agree with you that writing with a broken heart may work at times. For they didn't say for nothing... Our sweetest songs tell our saddest tales. Keep writing. There's a reader, as they say, for every writer. Best wishes!

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    1. Thank you dear Sonia for being my Krishna today:)

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  2. Hari OM
    Firstly, let me say, sorry for missing a post - somehow that last one did not come up in my reader (or it was just not visible to sleep-deprived eyes..!) I have read it now and loved it as all other commenters did.

    Now for this one. All I can say is that it takes courage to submit, so you deserve all plaudits for that. I write and write and write and it goes nowhere - just so I don't ever have to have the feelings you describe so accurately here! A story (or poem) does require an audience to come to life, so I have nothing but dormant seeds, whilst you have sprouts. Okay, it may take a little more nurturing for those sprouts to then form deep roots, but you are on your way!!! And is is always good to [try] remember that all art, including writing, is received subjectively. Another judge(s) may have awarded differently.

    Let the rejection be the fertiliser for the sprouts, the fuel for the fire of creativity. Stick to it girl!!! YAM xx

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    1. Thank you dear Yamini for using the seed analogy. Somehow, the gardener in me takes to those rather easily:) Yes, you are right--the journey of seeds to sprouts to leaves and branches and deep roots takes time and love. Perhaps, once established, the birds will come too and invite the world with their chirps. And perhaps,then it won't matter at all to the tree whether he's been seen or not. He'll be happy doing what he's born to do:)

      Perhaps, that which you call dormant seeds carry robust trees inside --so secure in their own entity that they have no need to seek fertile ground to sprout and be seen, for, they, like your beautiful writing have seekers (like me and so many others) plenty already.

      I learn and unlearn so much every time our paths cross.

      For that I'm grateful.

      And this platform of blogging is a place where I can share my insecurities as a writer so comfortably. Another big plus to be thankful for.

      Hugs.

      Have a wonderful day. xx

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  3. Aha! Is it me writing or you ? Many times i get a feeling that with my Photography it is this far and no further. So time comes when I leave it , don't like to shoot and pack my camera away. At the moment too i am going through same feeling. And hardly shooting.

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    1. So glad to see you here dear Sonali.

      I cannot believe you'd ever feel like that--your photographs are poetry--sheer poetry.

      Thank you for sharing your feelings. In the sharing lies the bond that binds tribes together--tribes of creative souls who sometimes seek recognition from others when all along the light in them is telling them--you are stars--shine on:)

      love and hugs for you from Doha.

      BTW, your rain soaked pics of your garden quench my thirst for rains in India. Thank you. xx

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  4. I loved your post as always Arti... And inspite of the title of the post and the small description I read on FB about it... While reading.. I so wished it will end like a movie you know... I almost thought when I read your thought that there was a mistake... That there really was and you were the selected winner. But then, there is always that tiny little difference between reel and real... And the difference is 'life' isn't it!

    Rejections, well not in the field of writing per se but otherwise in my career had bothered me the most when it happened for the very first time and post that it bothered me lesser and lesser each time till I reached the point that it felt like a mosquito bite! Did the rejections make me self doubt... Yes it did.. I think that's natural.. Self doubt and comparison but then as you wrote giving up is never the solution... But accepting to accept probably is :)!Personally, how I overcame it if you ask... Then I would say... With time I realised that none of these rejections are the end of life... There are much bigger and more unfair ways life can surprise you and as long as it's none of those unpleasant surprises enjoy the mosquito bites as you can't do away with the mosquitoes whatever means you adopt... Can you :)!

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    1. Odomos is swirling in my nostrils and nostalgia as I finish reading your hopeful, encouraging comment dear Ira:)
      You're so right--rejections like mosquitoes will always be around. How we prepare to deal with them is the only thing that's in our control.
      So, while I tuck in the safety of mosquito net of beautiful, wonderful friends and well wishers like you around me and get ready to let the past be and carry on using the rejection to fire up my creativity (as Yamini said), I send you love and hugs for writing this beautiful comment.
      xx

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  5. Rejection makes you meet the person who you really are ,it unfolds the layers above you . But it’s good in one sense . Rebuilding from that point makes you the real person . Selfie without filters . Don’t be afraid what others will think , the day you start thinking about yourself ( not hurting anyone ) the day you start living .

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    1. Wow! Selfie without filters. I like this Minty. Thank you.

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  6. Good to read a tale...a very satisfying tale of life...a rarity in today's masked expreasions....I say it's a story may have offended many as we often feel comfortable to presume any tale to be at least little far from truth....real may not always be a truth, but a truth must be real as philosophers define....so I have felt satisfied to read through as it speaks the true heart...a true human...I bear the supreme respect for it...for the soul that hosts the truth and a mind allowing it to be expreasse without any dilution...
    I only...not I, but my odd mind, always see things akwardly...and, connected to dots...I assure myself that you have already accepted such odd mind to construe a saner thing in odd way...witbh such assurance I feel to express that it may not be rejection at all....it may be appreciation....at a very stretched manner it could be an appreciation without a touch of a mind that sees through your heart....
    I believe rejection is a word that only attempt to justify an illusion of deed not matching the dream....the purpose of doing is definitely to pursue dream and the purpose of dreaming to define deed....but there is no space defined when they do not meet...rather I always feel how interesting it is when they meet...I have counted my dreams as I could remember through my so long string of decades...and I am still writing those in a book...and I compiled the deeds too so far I could manage to recall...I have so far found only a few of dreams matched with a few of my deeds....on the other side there are countless dreams that remain undone and more interestingly there are countless deeds that were undreamt...I believe this space is more contributory to not only my own life, my soul, my philosophy, but also to people whom I love, meet or interact as it contains the truth...and truth is the most powerful weapon I have...it is also the more valuable asset in me....in everyone of us...so I believe there is nothing like a concept of rejection in the mind of the Supreme Creator...else why should He create such a beautiful human mind and soul...He is happy with whatever creative we do with our goodness...
    I am immensely indebted to your truthful expression that inspired me to speak out my honest heart too in this gloomy morning in Kolkata...
    my regards

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    1. Thank you Saibal for such a lovely, heartfelt and uplifting response. I'm feeling inspired and grateful all at once. Thank you.

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  7. Arti such a wonderful post! Rejections are hard. It does make me unhappy-no make it miserable and I do feel really really sorry for myself:-) And then I take a step back and tell myself. Its alright. Maybe I don`t fulfill the requirements and my story is meant for a different audience. So yes it deflates me but only for a bit and then I move on.

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    1. Thank you dear Arti. Your comment tells me you feel like I did:) Glad we can share our sorrows via blog posts.
      Thank you for visiting and for commenting.
      Hugs. xx

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  8. Such a candid post, Arti.

    Many of my friends have asked me, why don't you write a book. With the amount of writing I do in my profession, if all of that were put together it would have made a few volumes! And I see some people who are writing for the first time in their lives (they don't even have a blog) turn that into a book, and a successful at that! I have no clue when I will sit down to write a book!

    Rejection is only the other side of a coin. There is no acceptance without rejection, just as one can't rise without falling down.

    Keep writing, Arti. Keep writing.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your writing journey Pradeep. Yes, you are absolutely right about rise and fall being the two sides of a coin.
      I will keep writing for sure:)

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  9. Hey love,
    You are an intuitive and an amazing writer - prize winning or not. Its a blessing when words can align with emotions to come out as a good read for the rest. Immensely grateful that i am in your life of friends 🥰.
    Rejection is a part of our life, in everything we do. For me rejection is such a hard pill to swallow that I find it easier to close the chapters and episodes of rejections in my life never to venture into them ever again. They say rejection is a lesson on which we build our success story. But for me rejection is a book i never want to reopen let alone build my success story.
    So for me reading your version is an eye opener on how we can gracefully accept rejection to move on to better the art. Truly this version is a beautiful account for all your readers - us - to imbibe.
    Good one Arti - keep writing from your heart and you will always be the winner.
    Love and tight hugs

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    1. Thank you so much Geeja. Sending you love and hugs. xx

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