Updated: Mar 25
I've been sitting with the feeling of rejection and. I've had two things come up.
Rejection is an opportunity
Facing rejection is freedom
Recently I had a teacher of sorts, someone I admired, looked up to and respected teach me these lessons. I desperately wanted her approval and if I really dared to dream, I wanted her to admire the writing I was doing. Through the course of working with her, I had two very specific situations where I felt she did not approve and definitely did not admire my writing. Writing I was proud of and I felt deeply connected to. It was a part of me in a way other things were not. Her rejection of it was not just a rejection of the pieces I wrote, but a rejection of me.
I then sat with the rejection and was willing to change my mind about it. Maybe what I wrote was actually terrible, maybe it wasn't good after all. But when I looked at it again I felt a resolve rise up. It was meaningful, regardless of how she appraised it. In that moment I removed that teacher from her pedestal and made her human, like me. I accepted her disapproval, this writing was not for her, while simultaneously accepting my approval. The work was for me and others like me. Others who may find meaning in it and I was certain of it.
Many times this can leave us bitter, I'm still working through that part. The irony is through her example and teaching I was able to look at this rejection face on. Something I've never done before.
This experience showed me the opportunity we have with rejections. The opportunity to go within and decide what we accept. You hear about Michael Jordan who was rejected from basketball teams numerous times or authors who had more rejection letters than approvals. They took the opportunity to say "your rejection doesn't mean the end of this."
They went back and kept practicing and writing. They kept reaching out and being vulnerable.
They did this because once you face rejection, you're free. Free to continue or free to stop. Free. You've faced the fire and walked out alive, not unscathed but alive.
This isn't to make light of the months, yes months, it took me to get here. Or the years it took me to even understand how my fear of rejection has shaped my life. Or the days filled with doubt and the nights filled with questions. Days, where I didn't write turned into weeks, turned into months.
Eventually, I got both stronger and softer. My therapist asked me to journal my answer to this question: "Who am I if you hate me?" below is what I wrote.
Who am I if you hate me?
Full of love
Full of joy
insecure and yet, aware of my worth
Optimistic and hopeful
a lover of learning
It's almost that once I stop turning to you - to others - to my boss - to my co-workers - to my husband - to my children - to white people - to politicians - if the judgment from all of them has come and they have all found me wanting - if it is - if I am a failure - I'd feel deep. deep sadness but also
Free to do what I want without your limits.
And scared, without the fear of your approval, what excuse do I have to hold myself back?
But still, mostly,