MY PARENTS AND I FALL INTO A POST-HOLIDAY STUPOR. TAKE THE DAY OFF. Refuel with an outing to the local frozen yogurt extortionist and leftovers chez Netflix.
PART ONE: ASK MY MOM TO JOIN THE SIERRA CLUB
My parents raised us kids as liberals. We marched on Washington. We read The Washington Post. We voted Democratic. They gave to organizations like the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy.
Then something weird happened. While I was off in college and graduate school, they switched teams. As far as I understand it, what started out as frustration with government spending led to checkbook Republicanism which led to ideological right-wing values which led to cancelled subscriptions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, and all other "left-wing propagandist" media. And eventually, at least on my mom's side, subjection to a heavy dose of Rush Limbaugh.
So we don't talk politics anymore, or things go south fast and we all sulk back to our respective corners until the air clears.
So I had to be careful about how I framed this rejection. Luckily, the chance came themorning I had to catch a 6:00am train from my parents' home in Maryland back to NYC. We all got up at 4:30 and performed the familiar scramble to get me dressed, packed, and fed in time for liftoff. "Can I do anything for you?" my mom asked, meaning, fill my water bottles or lock the cats in the back bedroom so we could slip out or whatever.
"Actually there is one thing you can for me," I said with a straight face.
"Join the Sierra Club."
"Absolutely not. We did that for years, and we've just [she's really building up a head of steam by now]---oh, this is a rejection, right?" Success! (Rejection: 1, Acceptance: 0)
PART TWO: MAKE AN ADVANCE TOWARD MLC (MY LATEST CRUSH) APRIL 18
Hadn't planned this one, but sometimes life just throws opportunity in your path. If you've been reading along so far, this is a different crush from the one mentioned before. This is the flimsiest of flimsies: a guy I met on a train home from one of the Harvard think-tanks I attend a couple of times a year. Granted, I was probably pretty lit up that day, as I'd just given two talks on yoga and its effects on the world, to a bunch of brain-trust types with varying but basically limited experience with yoga history and philosophy. Anyway, somehow this guy caught my eye, and I, his. Thing is, we were in the Amtrak Quiet Car (no conversations allowed), so our exchanges were pretty limited.
Nonetheless, he followed up with a text that evening, and we started a little back and forth that led to two near misses on his actually coming to visit me in East Hampton. I was skeptical from the start, but it's hard to turn down attention from a younger man who'd just sold his company, seemed genuinely open and curious, and possessed all the old-school manners that never fail to melt my heart.
Anyway, predictably, after a couple of weeks the texts thinned out. I assumed he'd probably found a new love interest of his own, and gracefully backed off myself. But there I was that day, riding the Amtrak Quiet Car through his hometown of Philadelphia. So I bravely, or perhaps foolishly, sent a text. Got a reply minutes later that he was in Sienna on his way to Rome. Great, I thought: sold his company, free for once, out traveling the world. Not so great: next text revealed that he had a traveling companion (any place more romantic than Italy?), so I'm assuming my inkling was true. (Rejections: 1, Acceptances: 0. Decline in current crushes: 1)
PART TWO: DO A FIFTH STEP WITH MY 12-STEP SPONSOR
If you've never been exposed to Twelve Step recovery programs, they demand some serious soul-searching aka character rebuilding.
I've been around that world for more than two decades, but it seems it's never too late for a refresher. Step 5 is most people's least favorite step: making a list of all people, institutions, and principles that you either resent (read: hate) or fear. Then asking why (how does it affect me)? And worst of all: What is my part in it? (What have I done to make myself feel abused, threatened, scared, whatever?) Writing it is like listing all the reasons you're at odds with the world at large, and trust me, those can be almost countless.
More joy lies ahead in Step 5: Once you've gotten that on paper, you have to read it to another person-who, of course, you assume is going to banish you to the Siberia of the human soul for all of your selfish and self-seeking, frequently destructive behaviors. Alas, my sponsor has a heart as wide as the world and would forgive my greatest sins and make me feel like just another average human being in the process. Which is exactly what she did. (Rejections: 0, Acceptances: 1)
STEP SIX AND SEVEN: ASKED GOD TO REMOVE MY SHORT-COMINGS
After you map out your character defects in Step 4 and share them in Step 5, you're supposed to ask God to remove them. So I did. Now it's hard to picture a beneficent God refusing to help a broken person to step into the light, but as you'll see in the following week, I kinda feel like God toyed with me here, cuz suddenly a number of relatively dormant defects sprung up and kept me just as busy rejecting myself as I was fielding rejections from others. (Rejections: TBD, Acceptances: TBD)
DAYS THIRTY-FOUR AND THIRTY-FIVE
Brain fuzz here. Can't recall what, if anything, I did to advance the cause. Call it a spiritual hangover.
DAY THIRTY-SIX (APRIL 22):
THREE MINUTES BEFORE CLASS STARTS, OFFER TO TEACH MY STUDIO OWNER'S POPULAR SATURDAY MORNING YOGA CLASS, AS SHE IS INJURED
YIPES! She says, “yes!” and I have exactly 3 minutes to plan a class. But the real deal with subbing for this teacher is that her students only like her classes, so I am stuck potentially being rejected by a roomful of students who don’t like me just because I am not her. (Acceptance: #1, teacher lets me sub; Acceptances from students: a few “thank you’s” for a good class; Rejections: hard to read as most students don’t comment either way—but at least no one left class early!)
DAY THIRTY-SEVEN (APRIL 23):
ASK TEACHER TRAINEE AT LAST MINUTE TO TEACH THE SUNDAY 10:00AM YOGA CLASS
It's one of our yoga teacher training weekends. My co-teacher is still injured, so I assume I'll be leading the 10:00am class once again. Not a problem, though with 16 hours of teacher training spread over two days, I'd be secretly delighted to foist some of the teaching onto someone else.
I have a twinge of conscience about this one, as the person I have in mind, while super-smart and fully capable of leading a class, is both overly conscientious (wouldn't want to let me down in any way) and unreasonably humble. Remember: I'm not supposed to make anyone uncomfortable with my requests. Still, there he is, and I see no other obvious options for squeezing rejection into my packed day.
So, I lead in, "As you know, Jessica is still injured, and I'd like to move around the room demonstrating how to do physical adjustments on students during the 10:00am class. Would you be willing to teach the class for us?"
Well, that was clear, and I was actually happy to see the poor guy set some healthy boundaries :)
DAY THIRTY-EIGHT (APRIL 24)
PART ONE: REVERSE REJECTION: REJECT AN EMPLOYER’S DECISION
Okay, I know I’m supposed to be seeking rejections, not generating them, but if assertiveness is one of my goals in this quixotic project, I might as well seize the chance to say, “No.” As will become clear, this led to a string of “No’s,” as that word underscored most of my interactions with others in the coming weeks.
Sometimes, as I was going to learn in the next two weeks, working for other people sucks. Thing is, since I don’t have a “real” job with one dedicated boss, I tend to think and act as if I am my own boss. Which means that when one of my employers or clients dictates something on which we don’t see eye to eye, I’m often a little too quick to voice my objections.
This was a small one, but my response definitely went unheeded. Apparently all forms of freedom have their limitations.
PART TWO: UNSOLICITED REJECTION: CLIENT HAS PROBLEMS WITH ME
Unwelcome email #2 of the morning: one of my clients has issues with me, but I don’t know what they are. Just clear it’s time for A Talk. To add to my discomfort, it takes almost a week to connect in person. So I spend the rest of the week wracking my brains over what I could have done wrong. The possibilities are endless, and my unreliable self-esteem has a field day mapping out scenarios. I get to spend a lot of time ruminating on this, as the client never does get back to me. (Rejections: 1 or more; Acceptances: 0)
DAY THIRTY-NINE (APRIL 25): PART ONE: IN GENERAL FUNK, I REJECT MYSELF.
Involuntary plummet of self-esteem. Feeling like a misfit, square peg in round hole, born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Surprised how a wee bit of criticism or disagreement with others can throw me into a tailspin.
Stay tuned. 100 Days of Rejection continues...
Read the next installment HERE.