Thanks For Adversities
by Ruby Bayan
It was a couple of months after I first started out being a full-time freelance writer when I found the courage to query a print magazine -- the first time I submitted an unsolicited manuscript. I studied the magazine's guidelines carefully and I was certain they were going to accept my article for their "Personal Experiences" department. Two months passed before I heard from them. They sent me a short and courteous explanation why they couldn't use my article. I was devastated -- it was my very first rejection letter.
I wanted to stop writing, thinking myself crazy for having decided to pursue a writing career in the first place. I was convinced that I had gambled on embarking on a new career and this rejection letter told me that I was losing the game.
Then my son reminded me of something I had totally forgotten. He said, "Mom, you only lose when you quit trying." As I buried the rejection letter deep under my files, I felt the spark of determination burn in my blood. I won't be a loser. I won't quit writing.
I re-studied the craft and I re-explored the market. I became determined to be more competent in writing my articles, in marketing my skills, and in interacting with the publishing world. In short, that rejection letter was the adversity that I needed to make me more determined to succeed.
Disappointments, accidents, illnesses, lay-offs, break-ups, catastrophes, and deaths are natural occurrences in human existence. How we deal with them makes the persons that we are.
We can look at them as misfortunes, bad luck, punishments, or pain that other people inflict on us -- and be desolate, dwelling on the unhappiness that they bring. Or we can look at them as minor set-backs that simply slow us down from pursuing our goals and our dreams. But what if we choose to consider these misfortunes as opportunities, instead? We can do that, right?
It's just a matter of perspective. If we can look at a lay-off as a chance to find a more fulfilling job, or a break-up as having the time to finish college, or maybe a death in the family as the opportunity to spend more quality time with the rest of the clan, then the misfortune will not be as disconcerting.
I believe that a man is not measured by how tall he stands but by how many times he stood up when life made him buckle to the ground. Life will make us break our pace and stumble some time or another. We can stay crumpled in the middle of the road, grieving. Or we can use the pause to contemplate on the path, calibrate our compass, and build strength to avoid stumbling again. It's our choice.
Adversities are inevitable. We can quit and lose -- or we can keep trying and win.
And by the way, the article that was rejected? I pitched it to another print magazine and it's getting published next month.
[First published in Lifeline Magazine, 1999]