When I was a youngster, in our utility room pantry lived an old five-pound coffee can filled about three-quarters of the way up with keys. There was every style key imaginable in there...small padlock keys... medium sized house keys... skeleton keys from who knows where... car keys from automobiles that I'm sure no one had owned for at least a generation... and tiny luggage keys. Truly, any key you can imagine lived within the depths of this can.
It sat there for weeks, months, years, waiting for someone to need a key, haul it to the kitchen counter, and dump it out... searching for just the right one. Silver keys... Gold keys... Black keys... some had little paper tags attached with faded writing that you could no longer decipher... some had masking tape over them, again, with worn lettering... and some had little plastic pieces attached, color-coding them to one day reveal some deeper meaning that was all too frequently, never discovered.
When the day came when someone in the family found a lock of some sort... perhaps an old bike padlock... or a piece of luggage that held a tiny little lock on it's zipper... or when the teenager's car keys went missing and that teenager needed to find the duplicate... out came the can. It was dumped upon the kitchen counter with a great CRASH! Key's are loud!
Then the fun would begin. We started out by sorting through all the keys that were obviously not the right fit... too small... too big... the wrong shape... and they would get unceremoniously plunked back into the can. The remaining keys were spread out on the counter, as we went through each one... one by one... checking if a particular key fit the lock in question.
If the key fit, then, TA DA! The quest was over and the remaining keys went back into the can and the can was replaced on its shelf in the pantry.
However, if the key didn't fit, it got plunked back into the can with all the other misfits, and another key was tried in the lock. This process continued until the moment of TA DA! and the key was found.
My whole life, this is the parable I used to teach myself, my son, and my friends about rejection, especially in my writing life.
Sure, it can be frustrating when you can't find the right key as soon as you'd like... but the adventure of seeking out that special key for your special lock is well worth the time. Imagine all the really cool keys that you would have never known existed unless you went on the search! And later, when you come across another lock... you will already have some idea of what keys might fit, thereby perhaps shortening your search.
Seeking out the right key is never a personal thing... well, it kind of is personal because finding the right key for your lock is a pretty personal thing. No one is ever going to care about finding the right key as much as you are... but remember, you're the only one who will ever care THAT much about finding THAT key. If you don't find the correct key right away... don't sweat it. It's not a personal attack on your lack of matching skills... or a statement about your lack of intelligence to discern the proper features of the key you're seeking. It's just not the right key... YET.
Have faith... bank on your tenacity and never give up. Soon, you will find the key that fits your lock... and when that day comes, and you get to proclaim TA DA! it'll all be worth the deep digging into the can to come up with the key... YOUR key! And then you can sit there, at the kitchen counter, cup of cocoa at the ready, latching and unlatching the lock as often as you like, knowing that for at least this one lock, you have become a complete success!
Celebrate! You deserve it! Share the moment with friends, family and your community of supporters. And then... when another day comes when you discover a new lock without a key... rejoice in the adventure of seeking out just the right fit!
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