Gosh, if faced with the choice of rejection or anything else, I think I’d take my luck with spiders or dark caves or getting my period through white pants.
Rejection is a special blow from hell that locates the softest, most vulnerable place in your heart and gives it a sucker punch with brass knuckles. The thought of rejection makes me want to hide under my bed and watch the gag reel of a romantic comedy and never, ever come out.
Rejection is scary and painful, and it is something we all have experience with. I have expert-level experience with it, particularly in romantic relationships.
We have all been in a position where we meet someone and feel feelings towards them ranging from “You’re fun, and I’d love to get to know you” to “You are amazing, and I think you hung the moon, and I want to move into a house by the lake with you and have 3 kids and a dog.”
I have definitely experienced both.
Forging new connections or getting to know someone you’re attracted to is always butterfly-inducing. But, the kicker is often you may not know how this person feels, and eagle-eye watching their behaviors doesn’t result in much insight.
In your mind, you have a board of evidence connected by red threads circling around one question: “Are they into me or not?” This leads to the most terrifying plan-of-action of all: “Why don’t you just ask them out? Put yourself out there!”
Put myself out there?! In that minefield?! Hell, no!
But, in the back of your mind, you know it’s an option that will yield results.
If I had a dime for every time a friend gassed me up about telling someone how I feel or asking someone out, I would have plenty to buy a robot boyfriend and never have to put myself out there again.
Let me set the scene for you, a scene you have probably anxiously sweat through at least once in your life.
Typing up a message in your Notes app and pasting it ready to send to the person you’re interested in. Sitting on your bed, running every outcome through your mind. Looking at the typed message sitting in the queue and trying to build up the moxie to hit send.
“The worst that could happen is they say no, that’s all,” you think. It’s a tricky situation to put yourself out there and, in doing so, move the protective shield away from the softest part of your heart.
You tap your foot. Maybe you pop a calming pill. Then, in a quick muscle-jerk of “be brave,” your finger pokes the send button and swoosh. Out your heart goes. The shield has been laid down, and there’s no turning back now.
You throw your phone down on your bed and jump at every buzz. You sweep the kitchen floor and do some dishes to keep yourself busy. Curiosity gets the better of you, and you sneak glances at your phone.
4:18 p.m…OH SHIT, OH SHIT, OH GOD, A RESPONSE.
Upon seeing their name, you let your heart feel that one pang of hope, that one pang of, “I did it!”
Until your eyes find the words.
“I don’t really have time right now.”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t see you that way.”
“Thanks for asking, but I’m not interested.”
Or maybe no response at all.
All the hope leaks out of you like a deflated balloon.
When you were running the outcomes in your mind, you forgot one thing: the feeling of rejection that comes with a no.
You appreciate their honesty, you’re glad you can still be friends, you respect their decision—you aren’t angry with them.
You’re upset that you got that stamp of rejection on your forehead.
Your tail is between your legs, and you’re as red as a tomato when you sheepishly tell your friends, “Yeahh…they said no.”
I have had my fair share of rejection.
I’ve confessed my feelings or asked someone out and have been ignored. I’ve received “I don’t want to date you” and “I don’t have time,” and I’ve been turned down without an explanation at all.
Rejection can be delivered with a swift kick to the gut or a gentle smile, either way, it’s still painful. The worst part about rejection isn’t the no itself, but the settling feeling of shame afterward—the bruised ego and sore heart. It’s an embarrassing and hurtful feeling, like you are not enough for someone, even though you cannot blame yourself for someone else’s feelings.
But, even though the outcome did not turn out the way you hoped, you did something brave and terrifying and courageous; you put yourself out there.
Never beat yourself up for being true to your heart and putting yourself out there. Never feel ashamed for being brave and wanting to make things happen in your world.
One of the few things that genuinely sends chills down my spine is putting myself out there and being vulnerable. Thinking about exposing the soft center of my heart to someone and not knowing what the outcome will be.
Recently, I was interested in a person, and I was really nervous about asking them out. I have been slam-dunk rejected in the past, and going through that again seemed too scary to manage. But, as I sat there, staring at this person’s name in the “New Message” bar, I tried to look at myself from my own perspective for a moment. If I send this message about my feelings, I would simply be a person being bold and taking action, which is honorable and nothing to be embarrassed by.
The only person who will make things happen for me is me. Even if it turns my stomach to think about uttering the words “I really like you,” you won’t know how they feel until you put yourself out there and risk getting rejected.
As I sent the message, I felt a burst of anxiety but, more prominently, relief and pride. I did it. I was brave, and I put myself out there.
Even though I got turned down when I asked this person out, I wasn’t left with questions anymore; I received an answer. Of course, I felt a pang of embarrassment, saying, “What am I doing wrong? Why doesn’t this person want me?” But the sense of achievement I felt by being brave and doing something scary bloomed shortly after.
It hurts when the person we find attractive or special doesn’t reciprocate those same feelings for us, and we are allowed to be upset. We are allowed to take the time to feel disappointment or embarrassment. You’re allowed to take the time to let yourself be sad. But, don’t neglect to give yourself a very important reminder: your worth is not based on someone else’s opinion of you.
You should never feel like you have to convince anyone that you are wonderful, that they should give you the time of day, or that they should go out with you. You deserve more than that. If the person you are interested in doesn’t feel that way for you, it’s okay, and it isn’t their fault. But never, ever feel like you are doing wrong because someone else doesn’t look at you with stars in their eyes.
If no one else has told you this, I am so proud of you for putting yourself out there.
I am so proud that you let yourself feel your feelings.
I am so proud that you let your heart be vulnerable.
And I am so proud that you did something that scared the shit out of you.
In the future, I hope you continue to put yourself out there. I hope you continue to let your feelings have a place, and I hope you continue to be proud of yourself for being brave.
Whoever you meet in your life will be lucky to know you.