The first time I redefined my personal definition regarding rejection was during a panelist discussion at a BDSM seminar in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. My friend, who was interested in learning more about the lifestyle, asked me to attend for moral support. I happily obliged to satisfy my own curiosities, but ended up coming away with much more than just a new understanding of the lifestyle.
One of the panelists provided insight into sex contracts, a measure to ensure all parties involved in the experience felt emotionally and physically safe. Her profound words on rejection came when she explained that it was okay to walk away from a contract or to have your requests denied. She recognized that most people view rejection as a negative thing. Once rejected, most become defensive because they view it as a reflection of their self-worth. But she challenged that by saying, “If my contract is rejected I think, ‘thank you for not wasting my time!’ ”
Upon hearing those words my friend and I both faced each other with amazement in our eyes. We both confirmed that we were guilty of spiraling into the shameful frenzy of the “I’m not good enough” rabbit hole. Instead, that panelist framed rejection as an acknowledgement that neither participant would benefit if the contract didn’t feel authentic to one or both parties. It’s a quote my friend and I have revisited multiple times (sending loving text reminders) since that day. We’ve even combined it with the no-bullshit wisdom that her father gave to me in high school after meeting my then boyfriend: “NEXT!”
Years later, I revisited my definition of rejection after reading a book by Pema Chodron, a very popular Buddhist teacher and author, who also provided clarity on the subject. She explained that rejection is the Universe’s way of saying “that’s not your path.” That phrase is still inscribed on my bedroom wall to this day.
Rejection is more poignant for me now, since rekindling my passion for writing. I’ve long suppressed my desire to publish my creative works because I was afraid of rejection and criticism. Much of what I write stems from my own personal stories and any negative critique of my writing was previously viewed as an attack on my experience, and my truth.
As I’ve been doing the hard work, going to therapy, truly knowing my self worth, my voice and validating both, I too have internalized a new perspective on rejection. It came to me as I was sitting at my desk attempting to overcome my “impostor syndrome” to write a piece for this blog. My internal dialogue immediately went to:
“I’m a terrible writer.”
“What makes your story valid?”
“Why would anyone want to read it?”
“I’m not good enough.”
The emotional toll from my inner critic was enough to prevent me from sitting and writing altogether that night. By chance, I saw the quote from Maya Angelou I taped to the base of my computer, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
In that moment, I realized I had to rewrite my internal script on rejection. I imagined receiving a rejection letter for an article or book proposal. What would I say to that editor? What would I say to myself to lessen the sting?? Pausing for clarity, I thought “Thank you for your opinion, but I won’t let it invalidate my truth!”
That too is now inscribed on my bathroom mirror, where I can see it every morning, so I can embody it and manifest it, to live and write my truth.
How do you handle rejection? Which saying resonates with you? Would love to read your comments!