I got a professional rejection today. Or, should I say, a rejection for a professional application: a research grant. The rejection itself wasn’t very professional. In fact, it was downright dismissive.
Now, I can take away some useful lessons from this, like, hrm, I need to work more on articulating what I’m doing in the grant and beefing up the bibliography. Some other lessons aren’t terribly useful because I can’t do anything about my research record until more of the pending articles and chapters get into print. I also suspect that I won’t get this group to fund anything to do with this line of research until it’s all but done because they really just don’t get it. So unless they see many related prior publications, they’re not going to see where this is going. These are all important lessons for the academic researcher. However, the best lesson was paying attention to my own emotional reaction.
I was a bit disappointed. That was all. I read the reasons for my rejection and chuckled at the heavy-handed rhetoric while retaining the useful elements.
Most important was what I didn’t feel. I wasn’t crushed. I wasn’t even angry. Irked, maybe, at the tone, but that was all. Honestly, the first words that sprung to my mind were “So what?”
Is this rejection really going to negatively effect my research plans for the next year? No. In fact, since all of my M.A. students are graduating, I’m short of prospects. I don’t have a grad student working with me in 2013-14 or even any seniors lined up for projects. I’d have a hard time finding a student to work on the project which involves reading a lot of seventeenth-century manuscripts: not a skill you can expect to build in every undergraduate who comes along.
Without the grant money and hiring concerns, I can scale back the project from communities in three counties to one and cover all the material myself. I won’t have to devote time to hiring and training: I can simply segue into this project when I’ve wrapped up the next chapter on my to-do list and that’s just what I’ll do.
So what? I’m still a research rock star (or maybe, more realistically, a wedding singer? Whatever!). I got my rock moves and I don’t need that grant.
So for all those other great academics who’ve also been rejected this grant season, P!nk says it better than I could: