“I hate you!”
“I’m not going to be your best friend anymore!”
If you’ve mothered children older than the age of two, you’ve most likely heard these statements at least once or twice. As the children get older, it might be accompanied by slamming doors, throwing of nearby objects, or the latest to happen in our house – one just straight up walked out of the house and “ran away” (a neighbor texted us shortly thereafter and said she found him wandering the neighborhood admitting he had “run away” even though we actively watched him walk out of the house…thank goodness for big emotions and neighbors). These types of experiences seem to just be par for the course with parenting, and on my good days, I accept them and am not phased.
But what do you do when the rejection hits a little more close to home? How do you respond when the rejection is for something you’re doing; something you’re pursuing?
It’s one thing to let the big words from the small people bounce off you, knowing they’re simply expressing their emotions (and you’re the closest punching bag), but it’s another to persevere in the face of rejection when it comes to your own projects, your own side hustles, and your own endeavors.
What does it look like to push through countless avenues of rejection in your own life, that often penetrate deeper than the four year olds declaration of momentary hate (of which she then asked me to paint her nails 5 minutes later)?
I posted this picture on my Instagram and it sparked a conversation that was hugely encouraging for me. And the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it sounded.
As some of you know, I have been on this journey to discover my purpose as a mom and woman, both in my (currently unpaid) vocation and life’s mission. Trying to answer the questions of ‘Who am I?” without a formal job title, vocation to grow in, or measuring stick of whether the work I AM doing with my kids is even going to turn out okay.
Finding rest, peace, and purpose in this journey has been rough for me.
I’ve had a dream in my heart for years now to do, and BE, something more than ‘just’ a mom. Yes, motherhood is a calling, something that I have chosen and been blessed with, but I’ve had this yearning in my heart for years now for something more. As I’ve pursued various things, the thing I kept coming back to was connecting with, and helping, other moms out there who maybe felt the same way that I did. After all, one of the reasons adding to my yearning for more was the simple fact that all I saw online, or in my community, were what felt like women who either LOVED motherhood and felt they were fully in their lane, or women who LOVED their career outside of the home. The woman who primarily was at home because she saw value in it, but still felt like she had more to contribute to the world, didn’t have a voice (or at least I wasn’t hearing her speak).
So that’s what I set out to create here. And with my love for words, and getting lost in stories, I decided that pursuing a book felt like the next right step.
I enrolled in Author School, I joined an online writer’s membership, I carved out time in my calendar to pursue this and I just dove head first in. The words would just SPILL out of me. All of the things and experiences that I’ve been bottling up for the past 8 years of being a mom pouring out into the pages. Truly, as crazy as it sounds, it felt like God was writing things through me. Showing me threads of lies and truths that I had fallen into throughout the years, of which had kept me bound up feeling quiet and alone in my journey at home, raising these kids.
I hit the ground hard. And when it finally came time to ask for outside professional insight (as I already had asked several of my inner circle people for their critiques of the work), I sent it out into the world with confidence, knowing this message and story that I had been writing was much bigger than me.
I felt that I had finally found my thing: being a published author was going to be my thing.
And when that email arrived in my inbox from notable fancy-pants literary Agent G, I opened with as much excitement as a high school senior checking the mailbox waiting for that illustrious college acceptance letter – would it be a small envelope or a big one?! When I opened the email and read the words of criticism of my work, I was crushed. We even took it so far as to schedule a phone call to discuss my work in greater depth and detail, and it was more disappointment and rejection from Agent G. I was gutted. Here I had poured my heart, my finances, my time into this thing that I felt like I was called to finally do, express, and give to others, and it was rejected.
Have you ever felt this way? Ever felt called to move forward in something, only to arrive there and have it be met with rejection or not come to fruition like how you thought it would?
So what did I do? Naturally, I shut my computer and didn’t open any of the documents – the book proposal, the query letters, the manuscript – for six months. Every time I’d open up my computer and it would pop up, my heart would sink a bit at the loss of what felt like a lost hope and dream.
Yet another failure of a pursued avenue to use my gifts outside of motherhood. Maybe I was just cut out ONLY to be a mom. The lies of who I am began to flood my inner voice like wildfire. Once you let one in, and don’t immediately combat it with truth, they multiply. I found myself spiraling in a world of self-pity and doubt.
Maybe you can relate? You felt like you had a green light in your life with something, and thus you pursued it with everything you had in you, only to get to the proverbial finish line and find out no thanks, your offering isn’t actually welcome, or wanted here. And according to Agent G in my case, wasn’t needed. That my words and perspective came across as ungrateful and selling moms short because “most women” yes don’t enjoy the mundane everyday, but ultimately they do find fulfillment in their role as moms.
Wow. Was I really that off base? Were my feelings of discontent, and craving more to my contribution in this world beyond the domestic endeavors of raising kids, out of touch or unique to just me? Other women didn’t feel stuck at home, lonely, or like this role they had thought would bring them joy was coming up short, or at minimum much harder than they thought? I bought her perspective as truth since she was the “expert”. Clearly she knew the book market better than me, and knew what women would read and respond to better than me, so I shut it down.
It wasn’t until recently (God bless the podcasters of the inter webs) that I began to come out of the fog of lies, beginning to entertain the thought of revising this writing thing not just as a hobby and outlet, but as a true career. What if Agent G was wrong, and my message did matter, and was relevant to some women, but maybe just not her women? If the tables were turned, and it was one of my kids in this same situation, I would never allow them to accept ONE person’s critique or opinion to put a full stop on the dream born into them; to let them stop pursuing what they heard whispered to them in the quiet. I would look at them and say with ALL of the confidence in the world that this was merely ONE closed door, not a life sentence.
Thomas Edison famously said:
I have not failed. I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Truly, when I write this experience out, or when I say it out loud, I see it for the ridiculousness that it is. OF COURSE I shouldn’t let the opinion of one, no matter what their pedigree or credential says they are, dictate what I feel is my gift to give and share.
If you and I were sitting across the table from one another, sharing a cocktail or coffee, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to get your head out of your butt, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and get back out there. Does Tiger Woods quit when he misses a putt? Did Babe Ruth toss in his uniform when he struck out? Michael freaking Jordan didn’t even quit when he got CUT from his high school basketball team.
Greatness requires perseverance.
I know this now. I believe it for myself finally. And I ALSO believe that greatness might not even come in the specific result that I’m seeking. My purpose might be to simply pursue this thing, in the face of rejection, simply to learn and believe in myself the way that I do for others.
To learn how to believe deep in my core that I am more than a mom.
That my title, my paycheck, or my vocational contribution to the world can not and will not define WHO I AM.
We are so much more. All of the things that we are – loved, whole, worthy, intelligent, fruitful – are all fixed things that no one can take away from us, no matter how critical or big the rejection is.
Being a mom is not the end-all, be-all for our lives. There are days where it feels like this season is never ending. The truth that we must saturate our hearts and minds in is that we WILL reap the harvest, IF we choose to not give up. The promise of fruitfulness is there but we have to actively choose to not give up.
We have to keep pursuing, keep pushing, keep grinding for as long as it takes.
We can’t quit. There is too much work to be done. Your gifts, and words, are needed. Don’t let circumstances be the stop-gate for your dream.
That dream that’s inside of you, don’t let it die due to closed doors or rejection. Let us be women who persevere, believing in the gifts and message that were innately born into you and were given to benefit others. Strong women persevere, and this means getting back up and trying again over and over.