A life beyond a fear of rejection August 11, 2013 08:00
“We reject ourselves before other people can. Stop.” —Jia Jiang, 100 Days of Rejection
Fake. Poser. Wannabe. Fraud.
I bet these are just some of the words you're afraid everyone around you is secretly labeling about you. Words you may even mutter to yourself, leaving you feeling weak, vulnerable, and paralyzed.
As an entrepreneur, author, blogger, artist, small business owner, etc., you put your self-esteem and self-concept on the line every time you hit "publish" on your next blog post, unveil your first/next product, ask for the sale or try to do anything to reach out to the world.
When someone rejects you, it hurts emotionally and physically. Rejection inspires all kinds of conflicting and painful emotions, but above all, it totally disconnects your brain from logic and reason.
You don't just take rejection personally, you take it as a reflection of your unworthiness.
We've all felt this at some point in our life. Sure, some of us might be able to brush it off. But many of us end up hiding ourselves away and allowing the rejection to drag on our minds for hours, days or years. Even worse, we may steer clear of opportunities to avoid the possibility of experiencing future rejection.
Yes, it sucks to feel like you're somehow the only one missing the point. Like you're the sole loser who is left behind because you can't seem to figure it all out.
Deep down inside, we all want approval from friends, family and/or peers. We want to belong to some special group, community, tribe—whatever you want to call it. We want people to love our work, to appreciate everything we do, and to embrace us for who we are.
But let's be real here. Who are we? Who are you? ...if you're constantly rejecting yourself?
I grew up living most of my life rejecting myself.
Because my (then small) world had rejected me.
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was constantly bullied or simply ignored, I didn't know how to deal with racism in school, I hated being born a girl (one of three) because some simple-minded relatives made my mother's life a living hell for not bearing any sons, I had few to no friends, and I became so quiet that people even joked about me being a mute.
I felt so ashamed to be me.
According to my peers at the time, everything about me was "wrong." And whenever I tried to stand up for myself, there always seemed to be someone eager to "put me back in my place." So, I stopped trying...until I left for college.
While my perception of the world started shifting, accepting myself didn't get any easier. First, I needed to learn to like myself.
In retrospect, I was filled with a lot of frustration, resentment, and wrath (a terrible sin, I know...give me a break).
In my anger, I was determined not to let anyone tell me who I was anymore. I wanted to finally start standing up for myself. Thankfully, I met a lot of great mentors and friends who helped me see that I could rise beyond my anger. They saw my bad, but they also saw the good in me.
Deciding to pursue an entrepreneurial life later on also added a new level of exploration. Surprisingly, someone I looked up to confidently told me that PianoVerse would fail and that I would never be able to do anything with my drawings. Of course, they were wrong.
In the end, experiencing rejection is not proof of your inadequacy. It's proof that you're bold enough to try to be someone: yourself.
Perhaps you can even view being rejected by the status quo as a rite of passage toward living a more adventurous life of non-conformity. ;) It's important to realize that discovering who you are doesn't just happen overnight. Knowing, loving, and trusting yourself is an open-ended process and thrives on finding new ways to grow.
Now, I'm not saying you should screw the world and not care about anyone's opinions anymore. What I am saying is to recognize who these opinions are coming from before you give their words too much weight.
Are they coming from people who truly want to understand you? Who recognize your values and goals? Aim to offer constructive criticism because they want to see your future success?
For every person who might reject or condemn you, there is someone out there who also believes in you and what you do. So, do them and yourself the honor by putting yourself forward so that you may find each other.
And go show them what you've got!
Have you experienced or frequently fear rejection? How do you deal with it?