Back in high school, I was an active member on the Speech and Debate team. I was the only girl on it and it was my first experience with sexism, both from the judges and my team. Things could get really bad. One of my team's favorite activities was to see if they could make me blush.
Then I received my first major loss. It was an incredible speech and unlike most of my competition I had it memorized. My teammates who were there congratulated me on winning, even while the judges were in another room deciding. Then the results came in. I didn't win. I didn't even place.
The next day at school was hard. I almost didn't go. I wanted to stay in bed and hide, but my parents said I had to go. The whole day tears were behind my eyes, and I felt like a dry brown leaf crumpled up and ready to blow away. I resolved at the end of the day, I would leave the team.
Right after the final bell rang, the debate captain came up to me at my locker. There was no way I could put up with the shit he was about to give me, but before I could tell him that he looked at me and said, "It's official. You're part of the team now. You've received
your first shaft."
The team still harassed me, but it was more good natured, and I developed a much thicker skin. By the end of the year, I could make them blush. I learned to play the sexist games of the judges.
I'm telling this story because yesterday I received my first rejection. Not one, but two. There should be a rule that your first two rejections don't come on the same day. I'm not saying the agents were wrong. One was a very nice personal letter and I see where I can improve the story greatly. I'm looking forward to it.
But the feeling I got with those letters was the same I felt after I suffered my first crushing defeat. On the bright side, I'm officially a writer. I've received my first rejection letter.