Rejection sucks. Whether it’s not getting a job or unrequited love. Maybe it was just an unpaid internship, or simply asking someone out for coffee. Depending on where you’re at, it can feel like water off a ducks back or it can feel gut wrenching to hear “No.” You tell yourself that you have nothing to lose. That it really isn’t so bad. Yet, that wave comes crashing down on you regardless. It pushes you over, pummels you in a rolling tumble and you attempt to keep your limbs from flailing; resisting as the disappointment shoots up your nostrils. You struggle to regain any footing, there is no hope in doing it gracefully.
Rejection sucks because it is disorienting. You have mustered your strength and you are stepping into the world knowing you are about to make yourself vulnerable. With rejection comes self doubt. Did I make the right decision? Why did I stick my neck out? Was it a stupid risk to take? Putting ourselves into vulnerable positions, we walk a fine line between pain and pleasure. There is the opportunity for great reward: ego-boosting, superhero soaring, high-on-life emotions. On the other side, there is a small dog with his tail between his legs. You feel heavy, as though you are sinking, and the surface of the water sparkles as it gets farther away and the darkness engulfs you.
I experienced such a moment this past weekend. I regularly ask myself “what do I have to lose?” and love to boldly step forward towards whatever life has to offer. And I did just that. I gathered my guts, took a deep breath and pretended I was brave for 20 seconds. I opened my mouth and expressed interest in someone. Initially, in those micro-seconds between peoples responses to each other, there was a huge sense of relief for getting it off my chest. But that moment was fleeting. As soon as I had extended myself, he shook his head, frowned and simply said “No.” There may have even been a hand on my arm, and while you would think the physical contact is nice (which it is), the moment makes me sad.
It happened. It came, it went, and was it really that bad? The answer is yes. And the answer is no. I have the right to be ambivalent! It was that bad in the sense that my ego is plenty bruised, largely due to the genuine interest that I can sense inside myself and that rejection can often persent us with hurtful questions towards ourselves (am I not good enough? What’s wrong with me? Etc.) It is not that bad because that moment is over. It is in the past. I did it, I had the balls to do what I had to do, and it was wildly successful in that I faced what could have held me back: fear. And we all know that fear is the mindkiller.
As I move farther away from my rejection incident and more into my week, I have serendipitously come across several helpful resources to deal with any residual pain. I was attempting to clean out my email and opened a video from Marie Forleo. Marie asks “Feeling Lost?” Even though we have heard these little tid bits a million times before, it is refreshing to hear them again. Here are 4 ways to start over when things fall apart:
- Everything happens for a reason.
- Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Feel the pain without your story!
- Be present.
- Do the basics one day at a time.
As humans, we rationalize everything. That’s fine and in this case, allow yourself to sink into the belief that everything DOES happen for a reason. You are exactly where you need to be. This may be a difficult thing to accept. Feel that. It may help to close your eyes for a minute. What does it really physically feel like to be rejected? Feel the physical sensations without the story that you tell yourself about what happened. This will keep you present. Practice this over and over again. Take care of your needs, do what needs to be done, one task at a time, one day at a time. Simple, surprisingly not easy.
I also received a short post from Leo Babauta at Zen Habits: The Obstacle is the Path. It embodies the four points above. Why are you running from discomfort? Why are spending your time wishing things were different from the way that they are? I want to love my life and myself the way that we are right now. I am still playing the broken record of the moment I was rejected and I am still experiencing the disappointment. However, I keep bring myself back to the present and focusing on the success and opportunity that is a result of taking risks.
Be brave. Be bold. You only live once.