Putting yourself out there is risky business but it's something we should do. I'm gonna start things off today with a personal story of 'rejection' and then give you some tips on how to handle rejection if you're having issues with it. I'll try to make the story as descriptive as possible and aid your imagination with pictures so you can see through my eyes as much as possible. Let's goo!
One of My Many Rejection Stories
It was the last week of September 2015, I had just turned 18 the previous week. On 26th Sept I boarded a plane from Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport, Abuja Nigeria to Charles De Gaulle international airport, Paris but my main destination was London Heathrow airport, I was going back to uni for my 2nd year and I landed the morning of 27th. On my transit between terminals I met an American girl and we chatted for a while and it turned out we were going to the same uni but that was the only tell I met her.
You can tell I was optimistic to meet the fresher girls and that night you can say I had a sensory overload of peng tings (beautiful girls), I probably thought to myself, 2nd year is my year! I'm 18 and legal so obviously life is good.
On the next day, when I was about to leave my local Tesco supermarket I was walking past two girls struggling with their groceries and other stuff. One of them who was a plainly dressed black girl ( fully unbuttoned cardigan, a top, blue jeans and some black Nike Cortezes) and she asked me for help and since we were going the same way I decided to help. I still remember what I was wearing here's a picture...
We talked for throughout the short bus journey and we passed my usual stop but I took a gamble and went to the next stop which was closer to my new room but I've never used it before. We got off the bus and I took the stuff to her place and she offered to buy me a drink but I said I didn't drink (lol I was still forming good boy) but in my head I was thanking God I was 18 so if I wanted to I could. Anyway, she took my number and we met up everyday that week because we lived fairly close to each other.
Her raspy French accented voice always drew me in every time but it didn't sound like the stereotypical 'merci merci' accent, and I had no problems understanding her, she's from Toulouse (Southern France) so I guess they sound different up there. Her name's O and she has Congolese (not DRC) and Cameroonian origins, she always laughed at my jokes and I was always smiling when I was with her.
Obviously I'd already told my boys about her and I was planning to let her know how I felt, you know, 'the earlier the better' I thought. So, on Saturday of the same week which was Freshers Fair I was with her and after showing her around, saying hi to friends and signing up for American football which I thought was Rugby and she told me her friend died because of it (as if watching Will Smith's Confession wasn't scary enough), I grew some balls.
I sat her down on Square 2 of Essex University and told her I liked her and this was only 5 days of meeting her, I like girls easily don't blame me...it worked in movies and real life. I thought, the feeling must be mutual, I've been getting green light. Surprisingly or not she turned me down and before it got too awkward I said if you change your mind I'm still here and I hope this won't make things weird between us.
For the coming weeks I was linking up with her every other day or at least once a week, sometimes I even went to her lectures because my best friend would ask me to accompany her and I was always willing because I knew I'd see O. We didn't have much in common except that we studied law, our names started with O, and we're African but not much else but for some reason it didn't deter me nor did it make our conversations boring in the least, it was effortless.
The fire in me burnt brighter and brighter, the fact that she didn't invite me into her yard even though we were in front of it or that she was a party animal or she mentioned other guys didn't bother me. I even had a rather 'distasteful' moment with her one day. She invited me to her kitchen after I asked why she's never invited me in.
She 'cooked' spaghetti and shallow fried some chicken wings with little to no seasoning but I said maybe it's another good way of frying chicken that I was unaware of. After putting the first spoon-full or fork-full of spaghetti in my mouth I shed an internal tear, questioned her blackness and... let's just say...thank God for the mango juice which I wasn't supposed to finish but ended up drinking it all.
The chicken didn't help matters at all but I ate it even though it was still mostly red inside, it was better than the torture of that spaghetti, once again thank God for the mango juice it was the real MVP of that night. She asked me how was the food and I tried to say it was okay and she said I should be honest so I said it was horrible.
After that night you can say I concluded that cooking wasn't her strong suit but at least I could whip up something nice in the kitchen for us if it came down to it. We texted each other regularly and I focused mainly on her, she was the sun of the term in my eyes even though there were other girls, they were like distant stars so they couldn't compare in brightness.
Subsequently, we started having some issues, she said I was 'clingy' which I didn't understand how but I detested that word (still do!) being used to refer to me, it was like salt on an earthworm. Eventually, she said "I don't think we should be friends any more, I'm sorry." It came from nowhere and it hurt like a bitch! I felt it in my chest!...
I felt rejected, I felt I wasn't good enough, and it hurt my confidence a little (see 12 Tips to Boost Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem) it's not like I was having much luck with the other girls, they only wanted to be friends and I had enough friends already wasn't looking for more. As a real one, I said okay that's cool but inside my face was like this...
I told my guys and they had various things to say and one was even angrier for me than I was but I didn't have strength for it, I was used to it and it didn't stop with her either but it was the only time someone was straight with me like that so I respected her. It was more-or-less like a break up and it wasn't like she disappeared afterwards, I kept seeing her and my feelings didn't either... those feelings still arise as I'm typing this.
How to Handle Rejection
Rejection is part of life, you can't always get a 'yes' every time you go for something, in fact anyone that says yes all the time is being fake but anyone that says no always is a hard ass. To digress a bit, when rejecting someone try not to be rude because it can agitate the other person, I know sometimes no matter how you reject the person they'll still be angry but being polite is only right.
According to Dr. Phil, rejection is the number one fear among human beings. One of our deepest needs as humans beings is the need to belong and to be accepted, that's why we sometimes do what we really don't wanna just to be accepted. When you are rejected in one way or another, it feels like you've not satisfied this important need and it can leave us feeling down. It is important that we know how to deal with rejection so we can live better lives.
01. It's Not You, It's Me
Ahh the infamous words for a break up, it's such a cliche these days that many people don't even believe it. But is there any truth to it? As any cliche this statement is sometimes true. Sometimes the person isn't attracted to you anymore or the person wants to focus on personal development and may see you as a 'distraction' as was the case in my last break up.
Another example is what happened between my friend and a girl he liked. The way my boy was talking about about her it was clear he liked her and vice versa so I encouraged him to make a move. When he did, she turned him down because she was still shook from the death of her last boy friend so we can say she was a 'widowed girlfriend' for lack of a better term. It had nothing to do with him and nothing he would've done short of resurrection would've changed her mind at that time. If she withheld the real reason for turning him down (as she had the right to), he would've just been feeling crappy for nothing.
Now, it is important to not blame yourself, 'I could have done more', 'I should've gone to the gym', I should've done this, I should've done that. This isn't productive and will only cause you to feel insecure (see Beefing Up Your Security: How to Overcome Insecurity).
As in the case of la francaise, (the French girl) there probably was nothing I could've done short of changing myself to a large degree just to 'make her like me' even if I bent over backwards like a contortionist and that's just stressful abeg, (see 5 Tips for Dealing with Stress) I couldn't be bothered. It would've been like going to Burger King but expecting Mc Donald's.
02. Grieve a Little
Rejection can sometimes sting like a scorpion and it'll make you feel pain. Whether it's having a request denied, a job application or your advances toward a potential partner. It's only right that you feel this pain or get upset, suppressing it too much can make it burst out unexpected like molten lava from a volcano and make things worse, proper grieving is healthy.
You need some time to process your rejection especially if it something you really wanted and worked a lot for. Try to take some time off work if you can or stay in if you wanted to go out, go for a walk to clear your head etc.. this is not great advice but you can indulge in some comfort food like ice cream or cake for that moment. Avoid wallowing in self-pity or misery because this can cause a downward spiral and nobody wants that; don't make things worse so try not to go overboard.
03. Evaluate Yourself
Previously, I talked about how blaming yourself is counterproductive but now what I'll say may seem contradictory but it holds water nonetheless. Rejection can be some sort of feedback mechanism, it means you have to try again or try harder. In the job selection process not everyone will make it through the funnel, there will be a 'thinning process' where some will be rejected.
I've been rejected for several opportunities but I'm glad for the feedback some of them gave me. I remember absentmindedly applying for a lab research thingy and obviously I didn't get it but they told me to put more effort into it, I didn't go back to it but if I wanted to additional effort would've been required to increase my chances of success.
Trying hard or again isn't a full-proof plan against rejection but your odds will always be better and if you're rejected you can either look for other options or obviously try again.
04. Question Your Negative Thoughts & Feelings
Being denied something you want sucks! It can bring about negative thoughts and feelings (see How to Combat Your Negative Thoughts and Inner Critic). This is a tip I learnt from my coach, Blackman Aigbiremolen and you can check out his interview on my blog.
You need to ask yourself why are you feeling this way? Feelings are the voice of your body and they reflect your dominant thoughts at that moment. Then ask quite assertively, how true are these thoughts? This is 'priming' which is basically asking the truth from a lie which is quite impossible because lies aren't true but that's the trick *wink wink*.
The truth is absolute and lies are shaky mirages. When you discover the truth, it becomes a 'rethought' which is a reply and whenever you feel bad keep reminding yourself of the rethought which is the true reply to the question 'how true are these thoughts?'
05. Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk is so essential and it'll help you get through your down times. Like a caring parent, you need to tell yourself it will go because it really will. Keep reminding yourself that this is only temporary, it'll only last a moment and you may be even thankful for this experience in the future, it'll make you improve. Use affirmations and whatever tools you have at your disposal to talk to yourself nicely.
06. Keep Your Odds in Mind
This could've been the first point but since you're definitely gonna be rejected again it can work as the last point, kinda like a cycle when you go through the steps repeatedly. Life as we know it isn't even so that means we must have an idea of what our odds are for success in a situation.
Sometimes, you might be so sure you'll get what you want only to be surprised. For example, there was a girl I asked to go on a date and because of what had happened between us and she was tired of being single I was almost 100% sure she'd say yes but to my utmost surprise she turned me down.
When you know your odds things are easier and being rejected won't hurt as much. For example, if you apply for a job that has a requirement for 1st class grades, if you have a high 2:1 and decent work experience and you still get rejected at least you'll know that you were not likely gonna get it.
Using that 2:1 example, if you've read the job description and you've got great work experience you should apply even though your chance of success may be low, it'd be a shame if you're the most qualified candidate but didn't apply. Knowing your chances of success are low doesn’t mean don't try at all. Only 2% of job applications actually lead to jobs, and you never know when you’ll actually be in that 2%.
QOTD: "A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success." - Bo Bennett
WELL, THAT'S IT FROM ME GUYS! NOW...
Remember to TAKE ACTION because to know and not to do is really not to know. So what's your rejection story and how did you handle it? Comment below. Share this on social media alongside my infographic (download it!) because sharing is caring! SUBSCRIBE to my blog so you don't miss a thing and to get instant access to my free e-books. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest. See ya next Monday!
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My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!