It’s only Day 3 of my Rejection Therapy and already I’ve learned so much. On Day 1, I asked Danny from The Script out on a date. I haven’t heard back from him but he’s currently in the middle of a world tour so I can forgive him for being a bit busy to respond to a Tweet from a crazy stranger.
As I ponder my courage at asking out an international superstar, I wonder if it’d be harder to ask out someone in “real life”. Someone who’s actually met me. A real live man (Sorry Danny, you’re a real live man too but ya know what I mean).
If a real live man rejected me, I couldn’t brush off the rejection by saying things like: Ah sure he’s probably busy dodging the paparazzi, selling out arenas and shagging Tulisa. Sorry Danny. I’m definitely not going to bag a date with him at this rate.
I’ve also had the awareness that I’d find it way more challenging to have Danny agree to go on a date with me. Therefore, it’s not always rejection or failure that I’m afraid of.
I’m terrified of success because then I’ll be tested and judged on it and I’ll have to prove my worth to the world. And that sounds like way too much pressure! No wonder I prefer not to put myself out there at all.
Yesterday, on a beautiful hike, one of my friends decided to join the Rejection Therapy game. As part of it, we said hello to most oncoming hikers.
It’s amazing how something as simple as greeting a stranger can bring up a strange fear of rejection. What if they ignore me? However, we were met with such friendliness that we smiled and laughed our way up the mountain.
One man didn’t respond to my friend. She reacted with celebration. “Yay, I got rejected,” she exclaimed as she pumped her fist in the air. It’s extraordinary how different things feel when you change your perspective.
I said hello to a man who coughed at me. Is that rejection? After going so big on Day 1, being coughed at seemed like a bit of an anti-climax. So I took another action and posted the following on Facebook:
“Does anyone want to do something fun/funny/adventurous/inspiring with me tomorrow? I haven’t made any plans and would love to see what you lovely people suggest…”
One friend, who knows about the challenge I’ve set myself, told me: “NO WAY SHARON!!” But I didn’t feel rejected by that. It just made me laugh.
My cousin jokingly invited me to supervise her kids during their 6.30am breakfast. I’ve been known to be a bit gullible so I wasn’t entirely sure if she was being serious.
I really didn’t want to get up at the crack (excuse the pun) of dawn on Easter Sunday. Oh no, I thought. Is part of this Rejection Therapy having to do the rejecting?
Turns out I try to avoid being the rejector (is that a thing?) because A) I don’t want to hurt/offend anyone and B) I want to be liked. So if I reject someone and they don’t like me for it then I’m being rejected. Phew, see how sneaky this rejection stuff is?
In that moment, I realised that just because I say no to someone doesn’t mean that I’m rejecting them. It just means that I have other plans or I don’t want to participate in that particular activity.
If that’s the case for me, then the reverse is also true. When people say no to me, they’re not rejecting me either.
Let’s return to the Real Live Man for a moment. If he “rejects” me, it may well be that he doesn’t like my personality or appearance (and even that’s okay because, thankfully, we all have different tastes). But it could just as easily be that he’s unavailable/not looking for a relationship/having a bad hair day.
I’m reminded of Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. Two such Agreements are: Don’t Take Anything Personally and Don’t Make Assumptions. If I don’t make assumptions or take things personally, then nothing can hurt. I can’t be rejected because nothing is personal.
And if I can’t be rejected, then do I really need to continue this challenge for the rest of the month?
But as I write this, I have another insight. I don’t have to actually get rejected by anyone because I can feel rejected whenever I choose.
Sometimes, I feel rejected when someone goes quiet, can’t meet, cancels plans or doesn’t reply to a text/Facebook message. Sometimes, I feel rejected when a person’s in bad form/doesn’t laugh at my jokes/looks at me funny.
My fear of rejection is so all-encompassing that I’d probably feel rejected if the wind stopped blowing in my direction. What have I done to make the wind dislike me?
So yes, I really do need to continue my Rejection Therapy. I’m open to any suggestions, people. But I might reject them. Just sayin’.
Don’t be afraid, there are many more, more terrifying to come!
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