Throughout my life it feels as though I have constantly faced an uphill battle to hold on to those that pass my way. My father up and left when I was just six years old and my ‘step’ dad barely lasted 10 years after that.
The friends that I grew up with have all left town and every girl that I have ever dated is now long gone.
It would be easy to think that there must be something wrong with me – or maybe an ancient gypsy curse that repels people away, and that’s what I thought for a long time (not the curse part, the something wrong with me part).
I once went through a phase of receiving nine rejections in a row by girls I asked out.
That sort of thing knocks the confidence out of you like a swift kick to the gut.
Yet I carried on – almost blind to the pain and emptiness that I felt. One day things will change, they have to right?
It wasn’t just relationships where I felt the effects of rejection. It seemed like every time I told someone of my hope and dreams I would be shot down in flames.
‘You can’t do that’
‘You don’t have the talent’
‘That’s for the privileged, not for people like us’
Rejection comes in many forms – I had learnt this the hard way. People can leave you, people can tell you that you aren’t worth anything – people can even refuse to be a part of your life from the outset.
It chipped away at me for many years. My inner force field could only take so much punishment – I didn’t know it, but I was on the verge of a make or break moment. Would I sink or would I swim?
The Paradigm Shift
They say that it’s only when you truly hit rock bottom that you can begin to rise to the top. I understand that concept as it was this ‘rebound effect’ which enabled me to finally see what should have been obvious from the beginning.
People aren’t rejecting me at all – they are either simply seeing the ‘me’ that they see or they have their own life situations to deal with.
It was logical – it was so easy to understand. It was like The Matrix had revealed itself and I felt as though Morpheus had opened up my mind to a whole new world of possibility and intrigue.
I began to systematically think back over my life and to all the people who I originally thought had abandoned me. Yes sure, it was hard to find an excuse for some of them but there were definitely others who I now realised were just scared, or lacked the emotional maturity to deal with something.
Every time a friend tries to put me down or to makes an attempt to crush my dreams they are basically telling me that they lack confidence in themselves. They struggle to believe that a better life is possible, or at least that they are capable of such a thing, and they are projecting their insecurities onto me.
That girl who suddenly vanished, leaving me with a selection of unanswered text messages and confusion simply didn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with a potentially difficult situation. People split up all the time – I have split up with people too so I know that not everyone is compatible but at the time it’s hard not to take something like that personally. Yet now I understand the motives behind her decision, she was scared, it’s fine – it’s not my problem.
The nine months of unemployment and countless job rejections that I went through in 2010 weren’t my fault either. When 100 people apply for the same job and only 20 get interviews, it’s a victory even reaching that stage. It wasn’t me they were rejecting, it was just the simple fact that they thought someone else was better for the job.
Acceptance Is The Only Way
I believe the key to living a life without fear is to accept the current situation and only then can we deal with whatever comes our way. Rejection breeds fear and fear fuels rejection. They go hand in hand and it’s the main reason why we struggle to live our lives truly in the present, without the burden of past failures or the fear of what may happen again.
The worst thing we can do is to take a fact and place our own opinion with it.
This person didn’t call back because… blah blah. The fact is that they didn’t call, but who knows what the reason is? There could be a million factors at play here and our ego loves to be the centre of attention – yet the chances are it’s nothing to do with us.
We need to let go. Clear ourselves of blame. To allow the possibility that people have their own problems, dramas and situations they need to deal with.
Only when we can fully embrace acceptance, are we free to enjoy the present. Good things happen and bad things happen. Some things will be your fault, other times they won’t be. No matter what happens, you are you and nobody else has the right to chip away at who you are and to make you feel inferior.
The only way that I learned to deal with rejection was to accept that it doesn’t exist.
Photo by Marc Blackburn-Wilson