A quick search for “rejection” on Unsplash.com yields a lot of images of sad, wistful white people. It wasn’t quite the vibe I was going for in this post, hence the photo of the fall leaves I wish I was seeing outside (alas, fall has not come to Houston).
Rejection is tricky. I sent out a lot of rejection emails last week. Joanna Gadsby and I are editing a book on the idea of service in libraries and its impact on the practice/theory of librarianship. We received so many wonderful proposals. SO MANY. We can’t publish them all, so we inevitably ended up with a pool of No’s. We tried to write a kind rejection email. Our decision didn’t really have a lot to do with the quality of the proposals so much as the scope, the number we received, and the kind of book we are trying to build. We know that many of the chapter proposals we said No to will likely find a published home in excellent journals or books. We just weren’t the right fit at the right time.
I know this, yet the same day that I sent out rejection emails, I received one, too. It was for a journal article I co-submitted that I was really excited about. To be honest, it kinda hurt. It was scholarship I stood behind and felt good writing. That said, I completely understand the tough decisions the editors had to make, having just made them myself. Their rejection email was so kind. And yet…YET…it still really stung.
Rejection is hard. Coping with rejection is harder. Getting that rejection email was a good reminder of that reality. A week to process has taken away the sting, and I can write and discuss the experience without FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS. Rejection is a normal part of academia, and as long as it’s done in a considerate way, it’s probably healthy, and definitely a learning experience. I know that not all rejection is kind, and that sometimes it hits us at a time when we could really have used a win. I wish I had better advice than: sometimes rejection isn’t really about you. Sometimes it’s the greater publishing project, sometimes it’s the pool, sometimes it is about your writing or your research, but those things aren’t YOU. All of those things can change, and in a few weeks or months or years you’ll get a Yes instead of a No.
In the mean time, it’s ok to feel the feelings that rejection inspires. We all experience it and live through it. It might feel personal, but it’s really not. We just feel it–personally. I deal with rejection by
- Questioning all of my life choices.
- Buying a new dress or nail polish (depending on budget).
- Feeling generally ok about things and trying again.
It’s not everyone’s process, but it’s mine. How do you deal with rejection in academic librarianship?