So here it is, the follow up post to my post on rejection. Two weeks into January I was actually panicking I would have nothing to say to you, which is a strange feeling because rejection was what I had avoided for my entire life and now I was trying to get rejected and coming up a bit blank. I had asked a guy out and he had said yes, only for me to end it, I had proposed three PhD’s to supervisors and got two accepted and one I decided before I got rejected that I would decline it anyway so the rejection didn’t hurt at all. I was honestly worried that there would be nothing to say about it, but as the end of January rolled round, the magic started; I had two instances of rejection. I am not going to go into them; lets just say one romantic and one PhD related. I am going to give the disclaimer that the romantic* one wasn’t proper rejection but for the sake of the blog post lets roll with it. The PhD one hurt like a bitch though, I cried more for that PhD than I have over most break ups.
I don’t regret putting myself out there, I would have regretted more not being honest, not going for things, and never knowing or never gaining the experience. I feel, in the least dramatic way possible, that a lack of rejection in my life has exacerbated my inability to face it, but actually when you stand head on, it is not that bad. It is like getting into cold sea, dipping your toe in is excruciating, but once you are fully submerged, it is not that bad. I have also learnt that 99% of it is bruised ego, and well, that is something that people (including me) should get over. I also, through asking for honest feedback on the PhD application, I will learn things that will strengthen my next application if I do apply for more, and I have learnt a little bit more about where I need to be in order to be a doctoral candidate, and that is not a bad thing.
Rejection reminds me of my fear of needles, I hate them, I hate having blood taken, I am one of those people who goes white and shakes when they put the needle within a foot of me, I am a total baby. I always have to sit on the edge of the nurses bed, large eyed and trying not to pant afterwards. Once when I was in hospital, about 17, already in a tonne of pain, a nurse came over and told me it was time for bloods, I immediately welled up, no, I was already in so much pain, no more. He told me to look away from the needle, about a minute later after some prodding and rattling he asked ‘did that hurt?’, ‘no’ I replied, pretty sure he had done nothing, again a minute later; ‘did that hurt?’, ‘no’, and again a minute later, ‘no’. ‘Well,’ he said ‘It is all done, I took the blood’. I looked around in total astonishment to see the vials of blood, the slightly distended vain and the smiling nurse, it shocked me, needles don’t really hurt, it was all in my mind. The work up and the nerves before getting rejected is so much worse than the event. I think because we are expecting to get booted from the tribe, or publicly humiliated, but in actuality it is rarely the case, and if it is, you really need to think about the situation you are putting yourself in. If a person humiliates you for asking them out see it as a win they didn’t say yes, cos that person is a dick.
So here is my theory, we flinch so hard away from emotional pain that we hold it up as the worst thing that can ever happen to us, it terrifies us, and no wonder, we are bombarded by the idea of rejection being a catastrophe in tv and movies, in romantic movies you always get what you want. We imagine it as agonising, life ending, but in reality, most of the time we are putting off a little bit of pain for no reason but fear. We stay in relationships for fear of what is outside them, single because we can’t face asking people out, in jobs for fear of not being good at anything else, in lives because we fear change. I used to hold to the theory that I would rather not get hurt, and protected myself from lots of things because I could get hurt, you can’t fail if you never tried, but you also can never succeed.
Secondly, the thing that will strengthen you against rejection is having a strong sense of self away from the judgement and opinions of others. If you base your self worth on what other people think of you, or in comparison to others, you are going to be miserable when you feel that the acceptance you seek is not given, but if you hold true to the idea that the only person who you have to live with, impress and have the wholehearted love of is yourself, then rejection becomes so much easier. Rejections sting is a lot less severe when you feel that your sense of being has been compromised by not getting the person/job/opportunity you want. This doesn’t mean that rejection is not going to hurt, it is just not going to be as traumatic, it would be weird if you asked someone out and they said no, and you felt nothing, that when you went for your dream job and didn’t get it you barely flinched. It is just about having a sense of perspective on it. Being happy with yourself is a long journey that most people never fully win, but you can start and try^. I feel like if the self acceptance journey is a novel, I am on chapter two, and maybe by the time I am 40 I will be on chapter 4, and some people have read the novel twice, and some people think the novel is boring and refuse to read it, and this metaphor is bowing under the pressure. Look it is not a race, it is a journey, that you can chose not to take, do your thing.
Also, you are not defined by your ability to date/have sex/be in a monogamous relationship, and being in a relationship is not a superior situation to being single, and the sooner that you see both situations as equal** the sooner you will be happy, and the less shitty situations you will get yourself into. If you see yourself as enough, and appreciate the life you have, not waiting to start when you find a significant other, the better you will feel. Find a person (or persons) who compliments your life, and in the mean time be enough for yourself, be so great and so fabulous that you never settle for anything less than you are worth.
(^Says the cis gendered, white, able bodied girl. And let me disclaimer this; the path of acceptance is not an equal one, as much as I wish it was, it will be so much harder to accept yourself if you don’t fall into what society finds acceptable, and I can’t comment on that; so here are some links to some amazing people who can. I hope you find your path.
On a totally different note. I feel like this is the end of my journey as a mental health blogger, I wrote my first ever blog on this site about feeling a lack of acceptance and my last is about accepting myself. I am really grateful for all of you who have read, told me your stories and smiled and commiserated with me. I am so glad of all the people I have met through yoga, through this blog and their blogs, and all the people who love me and who I love. Why is this the end? Firstly, I am in a fairly good place with my mental health right now, I have even conquered one of the biggies for me and stopped biting my nails, and I feel like I am very close to becoming preachy. Secondly; I just feel like I need to take my journey offline and go live the life of a yoga minded veggie hippy I have found myself to be in the last year (*shrugs* no shame), I absolutely refuse to say the quote ‘find myself’ but I guess, I am off to go try accept myself. I also want to find time to work on other projects and other writing, maybe, if I am very lucky, a PhD or job. Anyone paying attention (to be honest probably too much attention) may have noticed my step down off public platforms recently, the reduction of the sharing (I said reduction, not extinction, hush), and it is because I want to do the cliched thing, and work on myself offline. Here I go, off to go work on me for perhaps the first time in my life, privately, but make sure I tell everyone about it first, naturally.
In parting, I wish everyone who has ever read this blog the best, you are all amazing, wonderful people, and in the words of Jimmy Eats World:
Here are some more beautiful words from amazing people that have helped me on bad days:
‘you are complex and important and worthy of love’ -John Green
‘be gentle with yourself, you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars; you have a right to be here’ – Max Ehrman
‘Don’t gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold’- Bob Marley
‘To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance’ Oscar Wilde
‘You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated’ Maya Angelou
*Long story but lets just say I am very much better out of that one!
** I am having a single BALL right now. WOOOOOOO. Friend dates and freedom.
Having depression and anxiety is never easy. It has been two years of blogging, and my adult life searching, I feel like I am here, for now, feeling good much more than feeling bad. Thank you to everyone who has been there, and those who are still here, to everyone who I have or ever will cry on, or will cry on me. To everyone who has egged me on, believed in me, cheered me up and hugged me, and to everyone I have the pleasure of believing in and being there for.