I applied for a fellowship related to my teaching gig at the synagogue, which would have included a free trip to Israel this summer, but I didn’t get it. It was a long shot, because I didn’t have all of the prerequisites, but I applied anyway, because my boss recommended me for it, and because I wanted to go to Israel. It was a big reach, though, and I pushed myself to fight for it, and pushed myself to imagine that I could handle the trip to Israel in the heat of the summer, and I got as far as being wait-listed, which isn’t bad. I know I can apply again next year, and, really, three weeks in the heat of the summer in Jerusalem was probably more than my body could have handled, but…rejection is rejection.
It was painful to feel all of that wanting again, too. I’ve almost gotten numbed to all of the hope and rejection around my writing, but this was a new kind of thing and the anxiety and pressure and hope of it didn’t sit well in my particular nervous system. It’s easier just to not think anything big or new is possible, because then I can go along day by day, living in the present, and managing my small amounts of energy while working on long term goals one step at a time. But hope and excitement and possibility revved me up again, and got me thinking about the future, and all of the things I want (and don’t have yet), and all of the things I can’t have and can’t do.
It’s as if there’s a certain amount of hope my body can tolerate and anything bigger than that is overwhelming and sets up a roller-coaster ride I don’t want to be on. And I’m realizing that I’ve been actively stopping myself from trying a lot of different things, for fear of getting on the hope-and-rejection-rollercoaster. And that’s not good.
I envy people who can tolerate more anxiety than I can, because they can take more risks in life without worrying as much about the mental health consequences if they fail. I want to become one of those people.
The sadness I’m feeling now, for the most part, is that I don’t have a plan for how to get to Israel yet, and I really want to go. But this opportunity came up out of nowhere, so maybe others will too. And in the meantime I can continue working on my Hebrew, and saving money to pay for the eventual trip, and most of all working hard to build up my tolerance for the hope-and-rejection-rollercoaster, so I’ll be ready to take the risk when the next opportunity arrives.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?