Rejection is most likely one of man’s greatest fears, and I, as a woman, am no exception to that.
I have lived standing against a tsunami tide of rejection—the rejection of a birth mother and father, the rejection of friends, of boyfriends, of teachers, colleges, writing editors, potential employers…
It’s always been this wave crashing against me. Grinding my heart smoother.
I have fought violently against it and bowed meekly down to its ultimate denial of who I was. I have hated and desperately sought approval from the people around me.
I went to therapy to get help understanding what was going on inside me that other people seemed to find so abhorrent. Every therapist I talked to was understanding, even empathic. They focused on the chemical imbalances of my brain, the barriers to my development as a child.
They gave me more descriptive words to add to my definition of self.
Underdeveloped Intimacy Skills.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Catastrophic Thinking Disorder.
I took pills. I developed coping mechanisms for what they said were triggers. I put up walls.
I have shed many skins in the face of rejection. Nothing helps.
I have been thinking lately, none of the people I asked for help, not one person, not even I, ever considered that the rejection I am so terrified of is my own.
The rejection that shuts me down in any risky or vulnerable situation—the real rejection I was feeling came from inside me.
The more I think about it, the more it fits. I don’t think I have ever been surprised at rejection. In fact, I have expected it, prepared for—thought, “Of course.”
Maybe I can’t blame anyone else. Maybe, the only real trigger I have is that voice inside my head agreeing with the people who assessed I was no good.
I wonder what would happen if instead, I whispered to myself, “No way.”
I am beautiful. I am brilliant. I have something to say that the world needs to hear. My story, my voice is important.
What if instead of relying on other people to see how worthy I am, I just start noticing the things about me that are wonderful?
It took J.K. Rowling a year to find a publisher willing to take a chance on Harry Potter. Keats, my favorite poet, didn’t achieve any sort of recognition until after he died. My parents didn’t find true love until their 40s.
What do they have in common? They gave themselves time—they didn’t lose faith in themselves, in their ability to achieve their dreams. In the face of rejection, they held fast and became even greater.
But they didn’t do this by agreeing with the people who told them no. J.K. Rowling didn’t throw the manuscript in the trash bin, Keats didn’t stop writing beautiful and surreal romance, and my parents didn’t give up on their search for a partner who would complement and commit to them.
They did this by accepting a lesson, accepting rejection as an outside opinion, and going ahead with what they wanted to do anyway.
If they can do that, why can’t I? What in the world is stopping me besides my own voice telling me no? What is stopping you?
There are so many examples of inspirational people in this world who told that voice to shut up and pay attention. Pay attention to me—this wonderful, unique person who is going to do something incredible with my life.
So, let’s do it. Let’s tell that voice inside our heads to stop agreeing with rejection, and to shut up and pay attention.
I am here. I am important. I am going to show this to the world. I’m going to say, “No way,” to being stopped by anything or anyone—not even myself.
Author: Chelsea Griffin
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Steven Guzzardi/ Flickr