This isn’t really a post about mushrooms. It’s actually about rejection. But my very best friend in the whole wide world — who utters such sagacious advice sometimes I’m pretty sure he’s the reincarnation of some ancient female philosopher — reminded me that if I’m out foraging for mushrooms, I don’t need to worry about anything that isn’t one.
I was facing a heap of rejection at the time, having submitted a manuscript to over a hundred agents with very few requests to read it. I was pining away from those who didn’t make requests, and my best friend said, “But you only want the ones who do, so don’t think about the others.” Then he said the mushroom thing, and the scales fell from my eyes.
Now I’m not saying this shift in perspective — which it is — is easy to do. But I do believe you can make a conscious effort to try it. I think you have to train yourself, in fact. You have to know what you want and why you want it and you have to be able to recognize it when it comes. We’re all served spoonfuls of rejection, sometimes daily, and yet I’m not sure we grant ourselves the grace necessary to digest it.
Once we do though, we see the very thing we thought we wanted wasn’t actually the best thing for us. If we don’t see it right away, we can decide to eventually. We have that power. I can see that with the people whose love I wanted returned, and the programs I wanted to accept me, and the roles I wanted to win, and the jobs I wanted to get. I’ve often been grateful for those rejections in hindsight, for that failure, for all the pushbacks and expulsions and denials. They weren’t mine to have because I wasn’t theirs to get.
Value yourself, your skills, your gifts beyond anyone else’s measure. If you do, you’ll see the mushrooms more readily than the non-mushrooms. And keep going. Let the people, the objects, the experiences that don’t open to you pass by with ease. Let them be droplets in a river. Because you’re looking for mushrooms.
Don’t stand in one place. Accept the rejection and let it move you to action, let it change you, if necessary. But don’t make it what you seek. It’s not. Keep hunting and you’ll find the clusters that have been waiting for you to pick all along. They’ll be there. Trust the earth to push yours up when you’re ready to see them, when you’re ready to fill your basket.
I’m working on that now. I’ve got another manuscript on submission and I’m getting enthusiastic requests. It feels good. But I’m also reminding myself I’m foraging for mushrooms and I can let go of anything else. The stalks and caps will burst forth for me to pick. And I can keep looking until I find them because I know they’re here somewhere.