My little sister is everything to me, and it is my unspoken duty to protect her from the world. One day, I got a call from her; she asked me why she’s replaceable. She had just broken up with Mr. Soccer Player, who not only plays the field in P.E. class but apparently the female high school class as well. Somehow, in less than 24 hours, the guy jumped from being dumped by my sister to being someone else’s boyfriend. But when advising my little sister on a high school boy, I found myself struggling to discuss rejection because as much as I want to help her, it’s a fear of mine I still have yet to overcome.
I guess I’m afraid to speak to it, because I see it as me at my lowest point. I think I try so hard to come off as someone who has it together, especially when I put up that front and still get rejected. It then makes me wonder, if no one wants me when I’m put together, I can’t ever allow myself to fall apart. I can’t even allow myself to feel like I want to fall apart, because then I’m somewhat justifying why someone or something would reject me.
But finding the advice I needed to give to my sister also gave me a conclusion about feeling replaceable and being rejected that I should have known all along.
Even when we’re “rejected,” we shouldn’t necessarily see it as such a bad thing.
It’s easy to think of rejection as humiliation. It’s easy to assume that it means for one moment, we didn’t see something coming; we didn’t have control. Things didn’t play out how we had hoped they would. We were wrong. Maybe we were replaced. Maybe we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. Maybe this, maybe that. The point is, we weren’t it.
No one wants to be seen as the one who got rejected. We want to be accepted. We want to belong. We want to be wanted. But that’s just it.
Rejection is not really saying “no;” in hindsight, it’s actually a favor. It’s dodging a bullet. It’s an answer to something that apparently isn’t in the cards for us, even when we can’t see why that’s the case just yet. Maybe the time and place is wrong, or maybe it is just genuinely wrong for us. Period.
It’s not about asking what is wrong with us or why we’re not enough, it’s about finding out why.
Because if it’s truly wrong for us, why hold onto it? Why be upset over something that clearly isn’t in our best favor?
I think that’s because of something called pride, something I also know plenty about. Which is why I initially wasn’t going to share my personal anecdotes of the times that left me feeling rejected. But I realize now that if I can’t attest to the times I’ve felt replaced or rejected, who am I to even talk and write about it?
This is how my fear of rejection works. It’s why I hesitate “getting myself out there” in my career life and my love life. In regards to my career life, it is why as someone who’s about to graduate college, I keep procrastinating on applying to jobs out of the fear of being turned down. Although I know procrastinating on my future isn’t protecting me from rejection, it’s only screwing me over in the long run, somehow the fear of rejection still stops me.
This practically parallels to my love life. I keep turning down dinner dates and guys who actually want to sit down and get to know me out of the fear of them knowing me and changing their mind and walking away. So instead, I used to take the one-night stand approach. Although I realize now that I’m not someone who can handle that type of lifestyle, at one point in my life, I thought it was a good idea. Because the only times I have ever felt ready to feel something with someone and have announced it, that person didn’t feel the same.
But I can’t keep hiding forever at the thought of someone or something not wanting me. Because it’s not about being unwanted. It’s more than me not being a good fit for that circumstance. It means that circumstance wasn’t a good fit for me, either.
If everything went our way, if everything played out how we wanted it to, we would never truly know what it feels like to want something at all. Maybe rejection just makes what we do get in our lives that much more gratifying.
The possibility of being turned down, rejected, is not exactly pleasing. But something I have always known but failed to accept is that we’re never really rejected. Some things are just not meant for us; some people are just not meant for us. No matter how much we want them to be or how much we thought they would be. We don’t get everything we want in life because having it all isn’t always necessarily our best option. Our best option is simply what is truly best for us. Even if we don’t know what that entails just yet or if what we thought fit that mold actually doesn’t. And whether we want to accept it or not, it’s impossible for everything in this world to fit that category.
We won’t see eye-to-eye with everything that goes on in our lives. Some things we will never understand. It’s OK to ask why things happen, but it’s not OK to mull over an answer we may never get.
The way I see it, as much as it scares me, rejection is only doing us a favor. It’s saving us from diving into something that’s not meant to be, not a good fit, and not right for us. The key word being “us.” This isn’t about what we don’t have, it’s about what we need. When rejected it’s easy to think, I wasn’t it. But apparently that thing or person that rejected us isn’t it for us either. It’s a two-way street.
Bottom-line: A rejection is something rejecting us for something better. That’s why we’re never really rejected. Rejection is a way of saying, this isn’t it, but something so much greater is.