Cover of Acceptance Speech for the Christmas Reject Badge

Acceptance Speech for the Christmas Reject Badge

What’s a better Christmas gift than vindication? Yes, I am the Christmas reject Queen and I wear the honor proudly. I have never really enjoyed the holidays and the older I get, the less fun they become. So why not write or create art, or obsessively check my emails?

Truthfully, rejections used to sting. I used to read them and cry; take them as the truth of what my career as a writer or an artist would be. After all, these people run these spaces, so who would know better about what is good or not? Each rejection piled up in my mind, creating a wall that fully blocked my ability to see beyond my failures. I stopped writing, I pulled my self-published works from publication, I didn’t paint, and I gave up.

Part of this was due to my not-so “year of rest and relaxation” as I spiraled down the rabbit hole of my undiagnosed mental illnesses. It’s much easier to internalize the words of others when the words you say to yourself are so much worse. I couldn’t handle opening emails and seeing the word no for the fiftieth time. So I surmised it was best for me to step away, maybe forever, at the time I wasn’t sure.

But, my friends, a writer without words is lonely. An artist with no art is empty. I had built such a hardy cocoon that I forgot myself and how to process the world around me. I was never one to talk it out, unless in the privacy of therapy; no, I needed art and poetry more than I realized if I was ever going to make it through that enveloping darkness. So, I picked up a pen and bought a used journal from a thrift store and I wrote.

I shared none of these poems with anyone at first. I needed them to be just for me. Slowly, after lots of treatment and the right medications, my ability as a poet took shape. My skills as an artist took a little longer and I’m still learning every day but something about having that spark back really saved my life.

Then came 2022, the year I emerged into a beautiful, creative butterfly. I wanted to share my work with the world, I wanted community and I found that. Amidst everything I gained, the rejections felt like nothing. Sure, minor disappointment, but not a full reflection on who I am as a person or what I have to offer the world. A rejection is just a moment in time, sometimes only a sentence; not a setback or some magical vision into my future.

We all have our breaking points, our dark moments, and moments where we question if what we are doing means anything at all. I am here to tell you that it does. Without poetry, art, or this community in general, I don’t know where I would be right now. So I gladly take my Christmas gift of being the Christmas Reject. After all, the best people are the rejects anyway.

Know that your worth rests not in the doors that are closed, but the ones you imagine and open up for yourself.