It has been a long time since I have been rejected. I don't say that with any measure of arrogance -- I'm just reporting fact. I have the job I went out for. My wife agreed to marry me all those years ago. When I put the money in the soda machine, the soda comes out. So I don't have a lot of recent experience being rejected. This does not mean that it doesn't happen. I didn't get into all the grad schools to which I applied, but I got into the ones that I wanted to so I didn't feel bad when I was rejected to other programs. I haven't gotten every job which I have tried to get, but the ones I got were the ones I was really aiming at.
It has been a long time. Maybe that's because I don't do that many things which put me out on the line. Maybe I insulate myself by taking a safe course and only trying for things which I know I can attain, or which I know I have no chance at. So if I get them, I'm either confirmed in my conception of myself, or happily surprised, while if i don't get them, I'm confirmed in my self of limitation. But I'm not disappointed and that's the kind of rejection I mean.
If I put in my resume for the "president of he USA" job which is soon to be open, I'd be rejected but that's ok -- I don't really care. But if just so happens that I put in an application for a summer class which I think I'm perfectly suited for and I was rejected today. I have gone through all the stages of grief -- from disbelief to grief to blogging (the three recognized stages of grief). I have tried to rationalize [they never stated what they were looking for in candidates so how could I have given them what they want] [they are missing out because I am exactly what they should be looking for and they just don't know me] and I have tried to look on the bright side [now I can mark all of those papers that I pretended I lost last year]. I even tried to find fault with their system and with the program [how can they claim to do a serviceable job without the unique voice which I can provide]. But the bottom line is that they rejected me.
They decided I was not of value, not at the undefined "top" of some class. They decided they could do without me and they decided that the did not have any need for that which I use to define myself. I can try to explain it away, move on and keep a stiff upper lip because everything works out for the best and all that, but it just drives me to not want to put myself out there -- don't run the risk even for what should be a slam dunk because that hurts a lot less than being told that you aren't going to fit into someone's plans.