Checking my email this afternoon, after a long morning with my wireless virtuously off, I find three different rejection notices. A conference paper I wanted to present has been turned down; a paper I wrote didn’t make it into a journal; my application for a mentoring program was rejected.
This is the kind of thing I might ordinarily be upset about, but I notice that what I’m mostly feeling is relief. I tend to take on more commitments than I can handle, and I’m a pretty bad estimator of how long it takes me to actually do things - which means I often let the non-urgent but important things slide. The idea of having some projects fall through, for reasons that have nothing to do with my capabilities, is actually pretty liberating. There’ll be other opportunities for me to present and write and mentor. More important, though, it means that I have more time and energy to focus on the opportunities that I already have.
Although I’m inundated with academic and professional opportunities, I think I still operate from a model of scarcity: I feel that I have to make the most of every chance that comes along, because I’ll never get an opportunity again if I don’t. I often find myself overwhelmed, and it’s not fun; worse, it kills my ability to focus when I’m always running around putting out fires. I’m damn glad that all these rejections came in on the same day. It’s helping me remember that doing less sometimes means accomplishing more.
Note to self: you WILL have more opportunities, and you don’t have to take advantage of them all if you don’t want to. Now we’ll just see if I can stick to that.