To the man who taught me I was ready to get married, then broke my heart to free it: yes, I did move to Scotland, and then to Amsterdam, and then to Australia. Thank you for knowing I would be less of who I am without traveling the globe. Thank you for knowing that you didn’t actually want to come with me.

•••

To my professor who told me not to continue studying, because academia would ruin the poet in me, and a degree would make my life experiences less interesting to write about: thank you for your opinion. Thank you for being wrong.

•••

To the university who rejected my PhD application because they were phasing out the program: thank you for not just seeing tuition invoices, for not accepting me and then inserting me into a dying department. Thank you for giving me another direction by closing the door.

•••

To my friend who has become supremely successful: thank you for showing me how to scale up in the world without compromising a single inch of who you are and have always been. Thank you for consolidating your personality into your music. You have a mind for melodies and a heart for lyrics. Your soul is in everything you offer, which is so rare, and so necessary.

•••

To the editor who returned my poem and forcibly told me to rewrite 80% of it in order to publish it, and when I did, never replied again: you laid the ground for knowing I can say more with less, for meeting the next editor to sheepishly and humbly suggest that I cut a few lines from the end of a poem, and for being willing and happy to admit they were right (and a hell of a lot more polite in the process).

•••

To all twenty-six companies who didn’t read or accept my cover letter last year: you gave me practice in writing it, which made me better at articulating my skills. When I became so confident in pitching my worth, even in the silence of no responses, you gave an open field for my best friend to hire me.

•••

To the man on the bus who watched me put on face lotion and then mimed in sign language that I still had some on my nose: thank you for being my mirror, and thank you for the short strange moment of connection with a stranger.

•••

To everyone in Australia who asks me how long we’ve been in this country and whether we’re staying, who asks where my accent comes from, asks when I’ll get a full-time job, tries to piece together making sense about what I do for a living, hazarding a guess and being wildly off-base: thank you for your interest in understanding who I am and where I’ve come from. Thank you for trying.

•••

To my director: thank you for not casting me in the lead role, for knowing my strengths, and strengthening my weaknesses. For knowing now is not the right time. Congratulations on your supremely talented actress, and thank you for involving me anyway. You have earned my blind trust in you. I would follow you anywhere.

•••

To the friends who read my writing and never tell me: thank you for sharing this part of who I am even if we don’t talk about it.

•••


A Kind of Honesty

Rejection is a lesson
in choice and humility.

In the best response,
I’ve hoped for honesty:

I hope you find what you’re looking for.
I’m sorry it couldn’t be me.

Celebrate their luck:
wish happiness

to the college with such a deluge
they have no room for us in dorm or office.

Call an old lover who has found joy.
Wish him the best of what life can unlock.

Thank the editor for returning
your words with kinder ones.

Praise their taste for the deserving.
Don’t let the struggle negate being gracious.

Stay keen. Awake to a day
where your fiercest competitors

are sending you luck and prosperity,
where you can say to your love:

I’m glad you’ve found what you’re looking for,
and I’m thankful it has been me.

___________________________________

Emma Sedlak is a Scottish-American writer-singer-poet (which means she would have been great as a minstrel or scribe a few hundred years ago!). Currently a communications designer in Sydney, Australia, she helps people create deep, intuitive content and narratives. On the web, she lives at here. When she's not keeping the postal service in business, she also spouts poetry on Twitter.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Gratitude.

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