REJECT:  (Verb) refuse, decline, rebuff, dismiss, spurn

The word reject raises red flags for most people, bringing to mind hurts that may go as far back as  childhood where there may have been that little group in grade school that refused to let us play with them at  recess time. We bump up against rejection in every stage of life.

My early encounter with rejection occurred when I was about eleven years old and my father tried getting me into a Jamaican girls’ school with a little reputation. I had always performed at the top of my class,  many times placing first. When my neighborhood school  was about to undergo renovation and  I needed a place to go until the work was completed, my father took me to the  girls’ school. I was given a test,  and in a short time after I handed in the paper, the unfriendly, imposing principal dispatched me.  Had I failed the test?  I don’t think I had, but the verdict was, “We have no space.”  Many years now after the incident, I clearly recall the rejection.  Rejection is painful.

In the business world, rejection is common, and  employers have honed their rejection ability into a learned skill.  Now there are rejection templates  available for jobs and interviews that an employer can use without having to think up what to say while rejecting different candidates. Simply tailor one of the templates to the desired situation. And there is also a template with tips for “humanizing” the rejection. If only there could be a template for the rejected job-seeker’s bruised spirits.

Black History Month, which is now over,  is usually a time for pointing out the achievements of great African Americans,  but it is also a time when many African Americans  look back  to when they suffered rejection from a group that excluded them from membership, or  from getting a job that they were qualified for but their ethnicity or color caused them to be rejected, or from a bank that rejected their application for a loan, based primarily on ethnicity. This last action may not be legal any more, but it is still  done.

One would think that the lionized, widely published  authors whose works we love to read had a smooth entrance into their writing life  without being encumbered by rejection. Not so, according to, which has compiled a list of 30 famous writers whose work had been rejected at one time or another. The list reads like a Who’s Who of  the Literary World.

Included among them is George Orwell, who was told by an editor, concerning the perennially popular Animal Farm, “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the United States.”  Really, Mr. Editor?  To Rudyard Kipling, one editor wrote,  “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” Wasn’t there a nicer way to say  this?  William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected an amazing 20 times. And Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind topped that at 38 times. Incredible!

Here I  add my little part about having something I have written  rejected. A short piece that I submitted to a Christian magazine came back with its letter stating that they couldn’t use it, but the rejection letter ended with a line that I have kept written on the flyleaf of a book. “May God bless your writing ministry.” Now, that is an admirable way to end a rejection  letter. And it leads me to saying what many successful writers tell aspiring authors: Turn your rejection into a learning experience. Evaluate the rejection letter and the piece that has been rejected. Revise the piece and submit it elsewhere, and receive a positive response. It has happened countless times.

In life, we can use every experience,  even the negative ones, to good advantage. A child may not be able to adjust  and feel secure and happy after being rejected and excluded from a group. That stings, and the sting may remain for  some time.  But  for us older ones, we can evaluate each situation  and see where we can improve. We can teach ourselves to look to our strengths and try again. Twenty rejections? Use each one as an opportunity for redoubled effort.




Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”
Michael Jordan

“Once you turn negative thoughts into positive ones,
You’ll start having positive results
Willie Nelson




    • Judith Nembhard

      You are so perceptive, my friend! The browning thing was front and center. And I had written it in
      the post, but removed it yesterday. It was an Anglican school; however, I wasn’t an SDA then.
      I just looked too dark for that principal’s liking. You know all about how things worked back then.
      Thanks for writing. Please continue to read my posts. JN

  • Barrington Wright

    As we transition from celebrating Black History Month to Women’s History Month, it’s worth remembering
    that rejection is not a new phenomenon experienced by Black people and women. In Jamaican parlance, “its old time something.” It is so old that both the Psalmist David and Jesus experienced it.
    According to Matthew 21:42 “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…and it is marvelous in our eyes?”

  • Barrington Wright

    As we transition from celebrating Black History Month to Women’s History Month, its worth remembering that rejection is not a new phenomenon. In Jamaican parlance, “It is old time something.” In fact it is so old that both David and Jesus spoke about it. In Matthew 21:42 “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

  • Meryl James-Sebro

    As a struggling writer, your reminder of the many rejections famous writers endured is particularly timely and encouraging. Indeed, may God continue to bless your writing Ministry.
    Thanks and blessings.