Rejection and acceptance

The thing about academic life – especially casual/un(der)-employed academic life – is that you are constantly putting yourself, and your work, out for judgement and scrutiny. It’s tough, unpleasant, and uncomfortable, and it’s hard to maintain the confidence necessary to keep at it.

Opening my inbox(es) this morning, I had received two emails that illustrated this nicely.

Firstly, I had an official rejection letter on a job application I submitted some months ago. Given the delay it was pretty clear I hadn’t been shortlisted, so it wasn’t a surprise. It was still disappointing – it was a contract post at a university with a department full of really exciting thinkers, I would’ve loved to have been a part of it. It was also in a city I’d have loved to live in. So, a bit disappointing, but not at all surprising.

Secondly, I had a paper accepted to a journal. We’d done the revisions a few weeks ago, and I was expecting that they’d ask us to make further changes. But nope – it’s accepted, and I’ll have another first author publication in a well-regarded, international journal. I need more emails like this, especially if I am to reduce the amount of the first kind of email I receive.

But of course, even if I get an academic post, the rejection will keep coming. Papers will be rejected. Grant applications will be rejected. Promotion/tenure applications will be rejected. Papers will be published, but ultimately rejected by the field. It’s the harsh nature of academic life, and it makes the moments of acceptance all the more important, and all the more precious.

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