I think that rejection is one of the most brain bending, soul wilting emotions that we, as humans, have to process through. It comes in the form of other people and it seems to latch on to the weakest thoughts we have about ourselves. But, if we’re lucky enough, we’ll use it as part of our self preservation when faced with people and situations that don’t match our precious vibe. Rejection is a joy sponge and creates noise in our heads that very little can speak over. But somehow, we figure out how to keep breathing when the wind gets knocked out of us.
I look back at rejections I felt, at things that broke my heart over the years and some of it is the shittiest shit that’s happened, some of it got way more of my attention than it deserved, and a fair amount of times I broke my own heart. I preach “there are no prisoners in life” from the rooftops but fuck does it hurt when things don’t go the way you envisioned them. It makes you balk and slip and slide around the next person or situation that comes along even when they have the best of intentions. Past rejections make me want to push the eject button on pretty much everything- kind of like in the 80’s where pushing the eject button hard enough on your cars cassette player launched the tape into the back seat. Some hurts just linger a little bit too long and don’t need to be replayed….ever.
It’s so easy to get caught up in holding those negative emotions close to your chest and missing out on people and experiences that aren’t in easy to open packages. After hanging out in airports the last few years, I’m not sure people look up from their phone long enough to notice much of anything anyway. The absence of eye contact and simple human interaction is alarming at least it was in a pre pandemic world. I told someone tonight that I’m afraid that people will think I’m not intelligent because I laugh or smile all the time and love to have silly back and forth conversations- he told me that he didn’t see it that way, he said I come off as someone that loves life. Not sure I’ve had a better compliment recently. I could so easily hide away from the world and live in a bubble protected from potential hurt and pain but I’d be missing out on all the things that happen on the other side of that fear.
When we’re hurt, I think retreating and hiding are part of our lingering animal instincts and to complicate things, we use avoidance as another means of “protection”. I’ve avoided plenty of situations for going on five years in an attempt to steer clear of anything that could involve or evolve into more than surface level. It took some serious self reflection and answering the same question I threw out to the universe “when will this feeling of loneliness ever stop”. I had to realize, on my own, that the avoidance of risk and vulnerability perpetuates the exact situation I want to be out of. Just like all things in life, acceptance, understanding, hope, and love are all on the other side of fear. The journey we embark on every day is going to have overwhelming moments and that path has road blocks and detours but, at the end of the day, all we can do is live, weave, and learn with eyes and hearts wide open in pursuit of whatever it is that sets our soul on fire. At the end of the day I think all of us just want to love and be loved.
I don’t think people look for love because they hate being alone on Saturday night or because they dread going to the movies alone. People want love because they want someone to look past all the surface stuff- all the details that we feel judged about. To me, love is the highest form of forgiveness there is. Romantic love, love between friends and family…it doesn’t matter who is involved because it’s all the same principle. We share our struggles, bad hair days, frustrations and irritations with people we love because they know us best and we trust them.
We trust, that in our most vulnerable moments of raw and real, they will see us through loving eyes of forgiveness. That they will forgive our crooked glasses, the 10 pounds we’ve been meaning to lose, the way we snort when we laugh really hard, or the annoyance of a midnight nudge to stop snoring. That they’ll forgive our obsessions with things out of our control and look past our narrow scope when our hearts and minds are in disagreement. We trust them to love us enough to forgive us for learning what it means to be human…beautifully flawed humans.
Love doesn’t always feel like a place of forgiveness and safety. Some people come into our lives and show us exactly what love isn’t. They rearrange our thinking and in the blink of an eye our self worth is tangled around their axle as they carelessly drag it around. As a species, we weren’t meant to be alone, so maybe once again, our instincts overshadow our intuition and we are willing to eat a giant plate of self deprecating shit served by someone we trust. When we can’t choke down anymore, it’s in those moments we realize that some people are better in the past tense.
Any type of pain makes us apprehensive about sticking our foot into another pool. But, to stay true in seeing our way to the other side of fear, we need to manage our expectations. Sure we expect people to treat us a certain way but the reality is that 1. some can only love you as deeply as they love themselves 2. not everyone is meant for us and 3. some people are just beautifully wrapped pieces of shit. It’s up to us to define what’s tolerable and what makes us bloom. It takes an immense amount of self love to know that our worth isn’t in how valuable someone else sees us but rather in how valuable we believe we are. Self love is the greatest middle finger of all times.
One of the largest obstacles to self love is overcoming the desire to expect. If someone were to ask you “Who hurt you” how many of us could answer that with “My own expectations”? There are countless times I could. We expect to feel something or nothing based on an imaginary timeline. We expect that the next relationship will end up like the last because that’s the way it always goes. We expect someone to read our minds and give us exactly what we haven’t asked for. We expect the world to treat us kindly because we’re a good person. I’m not sure how our heads don’t explode under all the self imposed conditions we place on ourselves.
Think about it for a minute…what if we replaced expect with accept? Instead of expecting things to change accept that some things are exactly the way they are meant to be. Accept when someone shows you who they really are instead of expecting them to be who we want them to be. Accept where you are, accept who you are, accept that your best is good enough and tomorrow you’ll be even better. You are worthy of accepting a compliment and a smile from a stranger. Accept the challenge to keep the rough edges that make you, you and accept the version of yourself in this very moment. Accept that sometimes you have to fight the urge to stay on the same page because you know when you turn the page some people won’t be there anymore- the story must go on. Serenity comes when you trade expectation with acceptance……