The Gift Of Rejection
I don't take rejection well.
Ever since I stopped saying this a few years ago, the thought of rejection doesn't even make me flinch.
Rejection of any kind used to be one of my fears. For so long, I'd personified rejection. It was like the boogeyman coming to terrorize me. Whether it was a job rejection (While in high school, I was crushed to be an applicant-reject at The Gap), a sports team rejection (My middle school volleyball team didn't want me. They were right. I was horrible. But still), a college rejection (Decades later, still too soon), or a relationship rejection (I thought he was phenomenal. He thought I was eh), it all felt the same. The possibility of it scared me; the reality of it hurt and humiliated me.
A few years ago I began contemplating on strength. Specifically, the facades of strength, like aggression, machismo, and toughness, and begin challenging myself to develop real strength through practicing vulnerability. The first thing I thought I should tackle was my fear of rejection.
At the time, I was on Match.com so there would be plenty of opportunities to experiment with the idea of cozying up to rejection.
My challenge, as odd as it sounds, was to warmheartedly embrace rejection, to welcome it as a friend, to be kind to it when it appeared. To be clear, this was not a wish for rejection, but a course of action for how to treat it when it appeared.
This challenge was metaphorically me in a lab coat, wearing safety goggles, picking up a potion-filled test tube, pouring the liquid into a flask bubbling over a bunsen burner, and standing back to watch what happened.
If it's true that we attract the things we fear most, then I think it's wise to be at peace with rejection. I don't want to fear it and most important, I don't want it to have any negative power over me. And fear is power.
On Match.com, and with online dating in general, frequent rejection just comes with the territory, so I quickly got my chance to run through my crazy experiment.
Here's what happened.
I would communicate via Match.com's message exchange with guys I may be interested in. Sometimes the communication abruptly stopped with no explanation. I said sincere silent thank you's to rejection. Thank you for this dude rejecting me. He saved me a lot of time. I'm so glad this ended quickly.
As this became a practice, rejection-anxiety lifted. Rejection didn't look menacing as it used to. It looked like a friend who had my back. I stopped resisting it. I stopped hating it.
Yep, I made friends with the boogeyman.
One of my favorite teachers, Dr. Wayne Dyer, often says "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
Let that settle.
I purposely changed the way I looked at rejection and rejection started to look like a gift. In my case, the gift from the rejector was honesty-in-action. He didn't want to continue the conversation, so he didn't. The gifts that sprang from the act of rejection was the safeguarding of my time, energy, and cute outfits...to list a few.
As an aside, it's emotionally easier to be rejected by a stranger on Match than someone you know and have come to adore, but embracing rejection works the same here. It's tough, but it works.
When you are faced with someone who doesn't want to be with you (or doesn't want to hire you, or let you join their sports team, or book club, or whatever) then rejection is indeed a gift. Appreciate it and thank it for showing up.
To me, rejection feels like a deep tissue massage. It hurts while it's happening, the next day I'm sore, but then the day after that I feel good about it.
Being rejected is the gift of not being tied to someone or something that's not a part of your destiny. It's the gift of time. It's the gift of a better choice. That's something to embrace.
Whether or not we fight it or love it, rejection is going to happen because it's a part of life, so why not lovingly welcome it with open arms when it appears?
Photo credit: Gail M Tang via CC Flickr