For someone who is filled with anxiety and self-doubt and is irrationally self-conscious, I am really making some big things happen… in my head. If you ask my imagination I’m practically a best selling author and everyone wants to work with me. I also just hosted Saturday Night Live with Jake Gyllenhaal. Did I mention the horror screenplay I wrote is currently in production? You may not be hearing from me for a while, I’m needed on set.
These are just some of the things that I daydream about all day. And if you think those things are a reach, wait until you read how I imaginary arrived at these pretend scenarios.
Let’s start with my most recent stunt. In April (approximately 24 years ago in 2020 time), I published what I thought was an incredibly inspirational story: a girl I had to help do math inspired me to never be a teacher and then I encouraged people to follow my lead. It sounds better when you read it.
Anyway, I believed my life-changing career advice story was the one the would get me noticed. In a time when we all need encouragement and stories that make you do things and whatever, I thought this would be it. With this story I decided, fuck it, I’m going to shoot my shot and the person I’m going to shoot my shot with is the writer who inspired me to do so with his tweet “shoot your shot”. That writer is Mr. Shea Serrano.
Based in San Antonio, Shea has an amazing writing career: staff writer for The Ringer and best-selling author, and he never even intended on being a writer. A combination of talent, perseverance, and hard work got him to where he is, so who better to get my work in front of?
I composed my tweet, included a link to my brilliant piece, and off it went. I’d done it. I had put myself out there. In my head, Shea was going to read it, message me to invite me in for a meeting, and then hire me to write jokes for his next book. I’m not making that up, it’s genuinely what I envisioned. And do you know what happened?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even crickets, I think they were repelled by the stench of failure. I laughed, because this is typically how these scenarios go for me. Every time I think I’m going to encounter a certain outcome, the opposite happens and it’s usually not in my favor.
I’ve dealt with rejection my entire life, like the time I got yelled at by Greg, the receptionist at Jive Records, because I didn’t understand how the music business worked or the time my crush deleted his entire internet presence so he wouldn’t have to respond to my MySpace message. A lot of my rejections have been for things I didn’t even want. And every single one of them have led me here, to my happy place, where I tell you about my multiple, multiple failures.
Every rejection is another chance to get better. It’s another chance to work towards what you really want. So if you’re riding the rejection train right now, keep going. And if you need some encouragement, tomorrow I’ll be sharing my most recent piece that has been rejected by both McSweeney’s and Humor Darling. Not only am I sharing this rejection but I’m sharing what got me rejected. I hope you like it!
If you don’t, I’m OK with that too. You wouldn’t be the first. Not only will it not hurt my feelings but I’ll just keep on writing more pieces until you and McSweeney’s and Humor Darling DO like them. And THAT, my friends, is how you achieve goals. Fail on!