Thank You Thursday – The Blessing of No

“Rejection is direction.” ~ Monice Mitchell Simms

Ask my momma and she’ll tell you….The first word I ever spoke was ‘No.’

I said it to everything.

“Monie, are you hungry?, sleepy? Ready to go?” 

“No. No? No!”

Despite it being my first – and my husband would say – my default favorite word, I don’t like it so much when it’s said back to me. 

The other day, though, I was talking to my friend Joy — (Fam, this is happening more and more . My friends enlightening me and what not. LOL!) — And we got to talking about “Going for the No.”

Explaining “Going for the No” requires an expert skill that I don’t possess, so I’ll leave that to Joy to break down in a future guest blog post. But the pang of ‘No?’ I have had to deal with that quite a few times.

A few examples…

In Highschool, I had an opportunity to travel to Germany with my class as an exchange student. My father, worried about terrorists hijacking the plane — it was popular back in the day — told me I couldn’t go. So mad at him, I stopped talking to him all summer and I even got a job just so I wouldn’t have to see him.

The gig? Editorial Intern at The Metro Times. It was my first newspaper job that ignited my love for journalism. And I never would have stumbled onto the path that continues to enrich my life if my unreasonable father had let me go to Germany. 

The other milestone ‘No’ came from my mother.

Yeah, I wrote for my High School newspaper and yeah, I was published in our local Michigan Chronicle, but I still yearned to be a filmmaker. So much so, that I applied for and was accepted into New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Despite the fact that my high school drama department had produced a play I penned and I was obviously determined to be a creative spirit, my mother told me I couldn’t go.

One, I was only 17. No way,  she was going to send her baby to the Devil’s lair alone. And , two, I didn’t have a scholarship. 

Needless to say, I was beyond angry with my mother. But I still needed to go to college somewhere, so I applied for and got accepted into Wayne State University’s Journalism Institute for Minorities. In heart of downtown Detroit, WSU awarded me a full-tuition scholarship. No worries about tuition or books (thanks to another scholarship,) I eventually landed internships at Detroit Free Press and Newsweek Magazine, just to name a few.

Fast forward past me turning down newspaper job offers and running off to Chicago to attend film school…A story I’ll share later, I promise…..And allow me to introduce you to my most recent milestone ‘No.’

Six years ago, when I was shopping my first novel, Address: House of Correctionsto publishing houses, I got turned down so many times, my former agent stopped telling me.  Finally frustrated from waiting, I took my book back into my own hands, created my own imprint and published it myself. 

Fam, I’m not going to lie. Being rejected by publishers was emotionally bruising. But had I not been turned away, I would have never experienced the empowering pain, pride and joy of taking my career into my own hands. 

That’s why I’m grateful for the blessing of ‘No.’

And yes, there are plenty more examples I could have chosen to share, but , Fam, I’d rather hear from you.

I’m sure you have some milestone ‘No’s’ that have changed and are changing the course of your life for the better.

Time to testify. 


3 thoughts on “Thank You Thursday – The Blessing of No”

  1. We have so much in common! I too I applied to get into the New York UniversityTisch School of the Arts. I didn’t have a scholarship either and couldn’t go. I did get the nod for Wayne State University’s Journalism Institute for Minorities and said no to them three times before accepting! I wanted to come to New York! I was so stubborn. LOL!

    Not sure if you know this, but I also interned for the Newsweek bureau in Detroit and then was hired as a copy clerk before I moved to New York after going to WSU for a year and a half. My boss at that time, Frank Washington wanted me to stay at Newsweek and graduate from WSU, but NY kept calling! You know where I’m standing with my book now as I didn’t even get an agent. I came so close, but the agent in question was also the manager for Ed Bradley and after he passed she was overwhelmed with getting his business affairs in order so I was pushed to the side. Uggh! Another no!

    I agree that if these things hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be traveling this independent road now, but I am learning a lot and feel very empowered. I won’t be telling myself no at any point so I’m sure success is ahead! Blessings!

  2. tameka, life sure is strange. lol! we do have a lot in common. frank was my boss, too. and nichole christian’s….kudos to you for being obedient to the new york call. i got seduced by the laidback vibe of l.a. and haven’t looked back. 🙂

    that’s right, girl. the hell with no’s. they can redirect us, empower and challenge us. but don’t let them change you. success is yours!

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