Today, I want to take about a friend of mine that I met while staying in an emergency shelter in Philadelphia. His name is Mr. Leslie Boon. This is also an entry on saying “no” and what it means to be rejected.
Les was one of the first people I befriended in the University City area of Philadelphia. I learned a lot about Les, his past, and what it was like for black people growing up in the projects. Les is a native of Philadelphia, and someone who I could talk to and share more than a few laughs with when things weren’t always the greatest. We even talked about story ideas. We hung out a lot, and this is where things will sound interesting to people.
For starters, I was never attracted to Les. He was a friend, but he wasn’t someone I wanted to date. Not that he wasn’t a good person, but he just wasn’t my type. He knew that and accepted it. This is proof that two people of different genders and different backgrounds can be friends with no strings attached.
This, however, didn’t stop some of the women we came across from giving me the dirtiest of looks when we hung out at the library or Suburban Station. I rarely caught them because, well, quite honestly, I wasn’t paying any attention to these women or the looks they’d give me. I wasn’t there to impress anyone, just trying to keep out of the weather and not get sick. Les did catch these dirty looks, and he’d tell me about it. Heck, he went off on someone for shooting me dirty looks. Come to find out these women didn’t like me hanging around a black man. Les would tell me I’m not a hideous-looking person. Heck, he’d tell me I was quite beautiful and that I had a very beautiful, generous heart, and these women didn’t necessarily like it. Les, after all, wasn’t an ugly person, either.
These women, instead of gathering up the courage to ask Les if he was available, assumed that I was his girlfriend and would never bother to approach him. I can’t be 100% certain that they did want to date him. It’s just a guess on my part due to receiving the dirty looks in the first place.
In talking about this with Les, I pointed out the one thing that has become very predominant in our society. We’re scared of rejection so we don’t bother because we don’t want to be told “no”. Never mind that rejection is necessary for all kinds of mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. Never mind that sometimes “no” is what we need to hear. We always want things to go our way, to be the way that we want them, and for people to, not necessarily bow to our every whim, but be something that perhaps that they’re not meant to be.
I understand that “no” is going to be an answer I get 50% of the time, be it asking someone for a sandwich or a date, applying for a job opening, or when I send out query letters to potential publishers. Heck, most of the time I expect to be told “no”. That doesn’t mean I’m a horrible person. It just means that someone doesn’t want to share their food or find me interesting enough or maybe I’m just not qualified for the job or my story needs improvement. It just means that I brush the dust from my shoulders and either buy a sandwich for myself or find someone who does find me interesting. It juts means I don’t give up because I was told “no”. It isn’t the end of the world. Yeah, it’s very disheartening when “no” is the answer I receive more often than not, but it still isn’t the end of the world. Someone out there will be the right fit.
And, yes, in terms of writing, I am a self-publishing author. I have, for now, circumvented the whole potential for rejection. It’s not easy by far. All of the work has fallen on me to promote, to edit, and to find a cover artist for each story. It’s my way of testing the waters for publication, and I still retain the potential for rejection when the time comes to find a publishing house.
Even published authors experience rejection.
Until the next time, my friends, and remember “no” is sometimes necessary as an answer. Don’t fear it.