I'm scared of rejection and so is almost everyone else.
I have been rejected more times than I can remember, but what I do remember is how I felt every single time.
To me, rejection felt like my stomach was being pulled apart and my heart was running a marathon. My brain felt as though it was stuck in a thick fog with no clear way of getting through. Basically, I shut down.
I'm not going to lie, my fear of rejection did help me reach many of my goals. In high school, I was afraid of getting bad grades so I stressed to get straight As, and I did. I was afraid of my appearance not being liked, so I worked out whenever I could and ended up finding a healthy way to work through my shit. I was afraid of not being wanted, so I tried to make things work with any guy who wanted me.
Although my fear led to surface-level good things, like being valedictorian, getting into shape, and having relationships, I never learned how to get over rejection, and whenever I had to face it, I crumbled.
A couple of months ago I watched a TED talk about a man who began to seek out rejection every day. As I've been thinking about my life the past couple days, his speech came to mind. The thing that stood out most from his talk was that the worst someone can do is say no.
You're telling me that if someone tells me 'no' my whole life won't crumble and fall apart? Wild.
We miss out on so much in our lifetime because we're afraid of being rejected. We don't go up to that cute person at the bar because if he or she's not into us then it means we are unattractive. We don't apply for that higher-level job because we're afraid of not being the right "type" and if we don't get it it means we are not good enough. We don't go for that run because we can't run for a mile straight without having to stop. We don't say what's on our mind because we don't want the other person to be scared off by how we feel.
The thing is that we automatically add more to rejection than it is. Rejection is not a reflection of who we are, rejection is nothing more than a 'No.' Rejection is not a tale of our self-worth, skill, appearance, or intelligence.
When you start seeing rejection as the two-letter word, 'No,' instead of an attack on yourself, your life gets better.
Go up to that cute person at the bar and introduce yourself. If he or she isn't interested, know that you're still super cute! If he or she is interested, then yay! Props to you for putting your fine-a**self out there.
Apply for that job that you don't think you'll get. If you don't get it, know that there is a better job out there for you. If you do get the job, then hell yeah! You allowed yourself to be vulnerable to the possibility of being told no, and it worked out in your favor.
Go for that run even if you only run around the block once and can't run any longer. You told yourself you were going to run and you did. Go to the gym even if you only plan on staying for 30 minutes. Chances are you'll end up staying way longer and will be glad you went. The hardest part is following through on what you promised to yourself. Don't reject yourself to what you want to do before you even try it.
Tell someone how you feel. If they get scared off then they aren't the right person for you.
What you want and what's best for you usually lies right outside your fear-zone. You can't meet someone great, get the job you're interested in, become your best self, or whatever else you want if you let the fear of being rejected stop you. I'm a strong believer that everything works out in its own weird way and we won't know for sure unless we go for it.
Don't be scared of rejection, embrace it. Embrace being told 'No.' The more you learn to see 'No' as a decision and not a criticism, the more you'll put yourself out there and the better your life will be.