Fear of rejection has followed me through my whole life. I have consistently missed out on opportunities all because I was too afraid of being rejected. Telling someone how I really felt about them, applying for a mortgage, following through with that job reference – are all times that could have changed the outcome of my life, but I was too afraid of being rejected.
I think we can all agree that rejection hurts – a lot. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that rejection can physically hurt “New research suggests that the same areas in the brain that signify physical pain are activated at moments of intense social loss. 'When we sat around and thought about the most difficult emotional experiences, we all agreed that it doesn’t get any worse than social rejection,' said the study’s lead author, Ethan F. Kross, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.”(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/fashion/is-rejection-painful-actually-it-is-studied.html?_r=0 ).
For someone like myself, who is currently battling mental health and self-esteem issues, rejection can be a pretty low blow. Even though I knew this job wasn’t right for me and I knew that pursuing this further would mean that I would only see my son for an hour a day, it still hurts that someone didn’t see me as having the potential to be a part of their team.
In a way, I think it would be beneficial to know where I went wrong. Was my smile too creepy? But then I run the chance of having to find out if it was something that I could not control. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough? Maybe I’m too old to fit in with their group? Maybe they just saw through my façade and realized I wasn’t ready for a major change in my life. Things I'm not ready to hear at this point in my life - and that's okay.
I think my fear of rejection began way back in my junior high school days. I remember visiting an old group of friends and I felt like I didn’t belong anymore. To add to the insult, one of the new members of the group said I was ugly. This has stuck with me since that awkward moment. I laughed it off at the time, but I just keep going back to that day and how that snotty little brat said I was ugly. There was no context to it - just a stated fact by some kid with some kind of issues.
I had my own qualms about my appearance – who doesn’t at that age. To hear someone – a boy – say I was ugly was something I had never experienced before, and it really hurt. I wish I had realized back that that although my outer appearance was “awkward” at that phase in my life, I was a very loving, kind and caring person which made me beautiful – although, still a little awkward. Maybe it would have saved me a lot of heart ache in the future and made making choices a lot easier. Even when R. asked me out on dates, I rejected him so many times. I couldn’t imagine someone wanting to go on a date with me – an observation which has actually lasted to this day.
At this point, all I can do is be thankful that I don’t have to explain my limitations to a new potential employer. The fact that I even made it to an interview made me realize that I do have some desirable skills. I realize that this is the first rejection in what will probably be many more to come – and I have to be okay with that and learn from this experience.
I’ve learned that rejection is not the worst thing in the world. The best thing to do is to learn from your experience and move on. I’m going to use this rejection to build up my tolerance. I have to keep in mind that these people didn’t really know the real me. I didn’t show that completely in the interview, which makes me realize I have to open up more and let more of the real me out. This is therapeutic, really.
I guess the moral of the story is to be kind. Your words can be a weapon that makes invisible scars that never heal. Get over the rejection and become a rejection superhero. Trust me, it works.