The waiting is vulnerable.

There’s a vulnerability in waiting — waiting to find out if you got into school, waiting for a woman you are curious about to contact you back, waiting for a friend to reach out to you after a break in communication.

Waiting for answers, waiting for clarity, waiting for inspiration. Waiting to see if the work you’ve invested in for months will finally pay off. Watching others in your life get the job, get into the school, enter a new relationship, maybe get married. Meanwhile, life seems to be standing still for you, or worse, life is handing you rejections — you don’t get the job, you get told by someone you are interested in that they don’t see the two of you being together. Life gets you so down, you miss all the deadlines for the schools you were planning to apply to.

It becomes difficult to hope and keep putting yourself out there. You begin to wonder, is it worth it to keep putting myself out there? Can I take a break? Or is this “break” just me being lazy? 

It’s been hard for me not to wrap my worth up in how many times I’ve been rejected. It is hard not knowing if all of these rejection have to do with me, or something else. Am I not good enough for the job? What was I missing? Am I not good enough for the relationship? What did their dreams have that I didn’t? Life is hard enough being queer and black, but knowing that I have some disadvantages for me systemically doesn’t ease the words of self-doubt, the words that say “yes, it is all you. You didn’t get what you want because the problem is YOU.”

On top of all of this, constant rejection means I often feel like I don’t have the right to be picky. I live with guilt when opportunities that I know aren’t right for me come my way — someone expressing interest in friendship, but “being tired of white people” being the reason they claim they reached out to me. Or someone informing me of a job opportunity, easy to apply to, a skill I’ve wanted to learn, but difficult hours, more that I may have the spoons to commit to.

Taking a day at a time while in a season of rejection and waiting feels like using life as a distraction on the worst days. On the best days, it’s reconnecting with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while and reconnecting with old hobbies. Momentary respite from the waiting. The next day, you will encounter the endless flatlands of waiting once again upon that moment you wake up after resting from yesterday’s full day of distraction.

There’s a lot of loneliness, a lot of wondering if people will still believe in you if you are not accomplishing or announcing the next big thing. Most days, I feel internal and external pressure to find a silver lining, a reason for this season of life that will make it all worth it in the end. Sometimes I can find it. Most days, I just want someone to see that it’s really hard for me right now. I don’t want to feel like I “have to” find the silver lining to make others comfortable.

In our culture, especially with the likes of vulnerability researcher Brene Brown in the mainstream, we talk about vulnerability as if it is an easily renewable resource, something that you can just muster up whenever you are able to will it. As if we don’t need life to give back to us sometimes, especially after so much rejection. As if rejection doesn’t truly wound us. I could use a win, but not what other’s consider a win. I could use more kindness my direction, not in the way that other’s think I need, but in a way that I need, in a way that I understand. Or dare I say, in a way that I want.

It is hard to want right now.

That is, to want without want feeling like a lead towards even more heartbreak and crushed dreams.

If I seem guarded, if you see my arms crossed and you see my shoulders draped over my chest, know that I am trying to protect what little spark is left that is hiding in my heart, waiting to be known, received, delighted in and protected. This spark is precious. Who knows when she will feel like she can expand again, with no inhibitions. Nothing in life is entitled to that precious spark.