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Hello Rejection, My Old Friend
Chapter 6 | Writer's Commentary
Rejection is purely monstrous. Its big sharp teeth cut straight through the heart.
As I grew older and stronger, I started fighting that beast back. It only got bloodier. My attention to the beast of rejection made it even bolder, and the war I waged against it, only made it louder and exponentially more viscous.
Can this beast ever become an ally? If rejection were a stray dog, it doesn’t seem to want to go away from my front porch.
This week’s chapter is Chapter 6 | School Balls.
It is based on a true story, of a kid called Mahmoud Banhawy who literally kicked me straight in the balls at school.
I’ll never forget him, firstly because I have an awesome revenge story that I will share in the next commentary, but more importantly, because he gave me a very real understanding of what adult life can be like. It just fucking kicks you straight in the nuts sometimes, without even saying hello.
Another big rejection in the next chapter is the one that Maskat feels when he finds his love letters to Leila torn and thrown away. That one is softer on the physical balls, but man does a rejection of love linger and sting. This is also based on a younger me, who was madly in love with a girl in grade 3. I had hardly ever spoken to her. She was Fajr Bouarki, a name I will also never forget. I have not seen or heard of Fajr beyond 1995. I used to write her these little Christmas cards with long letters confessing my love to the little unsuspecting Fajr B. I sent her those Christmas cards all year long.
I must have sent her at least 20 cards or so. She never wrote me back! Not once! And for that, I also thank you Fajr B, for that deeply traumatic rejection is largely the reason I sit and write to all of you today. If you are reading this right now, thank you for helping me heal Fajr B.’s wound. I promise you to keep getting better at writing so that the complete version of this work may reach the hands of enough people in the world, to connect me to Fajr Bouarki.
Perhaps then, I could invite her to a Gumpcast episode, and I would have finally completed my hero’s journey.
Till then, I continue to write! And the more I write, the more I am likely to be rejected. So I brace myself for a continued journey alongside the unpredictable and vicious monster.
Hello Rejection, my old friend. I have certainly come to be here with you again.
In this commentary, I share with you a piece that came out of me in a more recent rejection. Over the past 18 months, I have experienced countless rejections, including some very tough ones that completely turned off the lights for me.
The context here was a rejection for a really sexy job at Amazon that I had not even anticipated shooting for. A friend of mine recommended me, and after weeks of preparation and 6 interviews, I was the front runner for a senior role that would lead Amazon’s Covid testing lab role out.
I never got it. The other guy did. I was torn for a few days, if not weeks about it. Now that really wasn’t easy to digest back then, but I can now easily say: Thank you Amazon. Your rejection has allowed me the time and flexibility I need to fulfill my childhood dream of writing a Novel that one day, Fajr Bouarki would read.
More importantly though…Thank you Amazon for inspiring this journal entry that I wrote after a long meditation that I sat through, in an attempt to deal with the pain of getting that “Thank you, you’re great but unfortunately…” email.
The question now is not whether rejection will happen or not, but it is a question of whether that beast can be befriended and treated as an ally?
Rejection is Redirection
That’s the wisdom. It is very easy to see in hindsight, but incredibly elusive when we are in the throws of these rejection shame gremlins.
They whisper to us: “You are not enough.”
The following is an actual journal entry I made on May 15th , 2020. I wrote it right after a thirty-minute meditation where I sat with that feeling of rejection for a job that was never mine to begin with.
“I just got the word about Amazon and I am finding it very difficult to deal with another rejection. There is a core pain I noticed during the meditation. That pain comes from telling myself that this is all about me screwing up. I feel like I got in my own way. This is only one of many opportunities that seemed so easy to get but I threw them away. I could have been more clear with my availability but I put a lot of uncertainty into the situation by asking all these questions and speaking openly about my ambitions to build my own company. I feel like I should have kept shut, I should have negotiated after. That would be the smart thing to do and therefore I am now telling myself that I am stupid.
I lay on the mat facing the narrow stream of light bursting through the tiny rectangular window on the wall. The room was cold and dark except for that rectangle of light that seemed to bless my face and hands with a localized intense sense of warmth. My back and toes still felt the still cold and darkness that filled the rest of the room. I tried to get as much of my body in that small, rectangular blessing from the sun.
I got into a comfortable position and closed my eyes but I could still see the space around me. I took a few deep breaths and tried to focus on the parts of my body that were enjoying the warm rays of sunshine. My soul stilled for a few moments before I heard a large rumbling sound and I felt certain that something or someone just sprinted across the room. I told myself it was my own brain playing its oldest trick on me but then I heard another…and another and it suddenly felt like I was in the middle of a fucking stampede.
A whole herd of gremlins, trolls, monkeys, and tiny fuzzy purple monsters filled the room and started stepping on my toes and bumping into my back as I tried to stay still. I took a few more deep breaths trying anxiously to remain calm. That’s when I looked to my left towards the darkest corner of the room, and my eyes locked with two large bloody red eyes staring right back. It had two large shadows of what seemed to be gigantic bat ears.
It took a step forward and I could see the gremlin’s bright white smile of crocodile-like short teeth. It leaped forwards in a flicker, and I could see its whole reptilian chiseled body extend in the air and clench straight into the skin of my back.
I frantically opened my eyes. I was lying on the floor with my hands around my throat, my eyes shut so tightly trying to squeeze the pain away. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was screaming.
My body felt in pain but I was relieved to be back in the room. I felt grateful for everything I had at that moment.
I was ok. I was safe. I was breathing. I was well. I lived with someone who loved me and had enough to keep a roof over my head, food to keep me replenished, and space to keep me creating. This role was not what I wanted in the first place. There is also this story I am writing which will be an inspiration to many, and one day this journal entry of pain will be soothing to someone out there. Whatever is gone shall be replaced by something else. Something that now has space to become!
I took a few more breaths in and felt like I was starting to be in control again. I started getting excited about writing. My soul lifted with excitement, and I could experience that stark contrast between what is dark and what is light.
I heard the doorknob open behind me, followed by a long squeak. I knew it was him, he loved these fucking theatrics. He took two steps into the room and I kept my back facing him, but I could already see his clean polished black professional shoes, his ironed suit, and a big confident smile on his face.
Well we really screwed up there, didn’t we.
Yea but it wasn’t meant to be.
You could’ve made it happen. You’ve failed
I am going to learn something from this
What is wrong with you? Why don’t you ever fucking learn? Why do you always get in your own way.
This opportunity was never going to co
And it came and you ruined it you idiot!This was the chance of a lifetime, you blew it! Own up and tell me what you have learned?
I am going to focus more and be better for the next one
You will fucking remain this way forever. You don’t have it in you
You’re not worth my time, dude.
I turned on the light. There was no one in the room anymore.”