Rejection sucks. It’s not as bad as being heartbroken from a relationship, but it is one of those experiences I often wish there was a special place in hell for. Rejection is like being the kid who isn’t picked on either kickball team during recess. Have you ever gotten an ulcer or stomach ache or indigestion after eating the wrong thing or eating too much? It’s sort of like that. Except that the ache is your ego being bruised. One of my friends once described rejection as being as painful as “being laughed at by a thousand people.” Or something like that.
Most of the time, I never know what to say to people when they get rejected. When I’ve been rejected in the past, it’s often been a good time to make an appearance at Dunkin’ Donuts. And there is a high correlation between the number of donuts I purchase and how much I really liked the guy that rejected me. Sometimes I substitute donuts for wine. I’ll usually go on a long run the next day too. This is my simple formula for dealing with rejection: eat donuts, drink wine, and run. Everything will be okay afterward.
I suppose I could also tell you that eventually you’ll get over it. That it’s not you; it’s the loser who rejected you who has problems. And I could tell you to find the next attractive person you meet and kiss them passionately to make yourself feel better. And I could distort that quote by Dita Von Teese and say, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be some special snowflake out there who decides that they don’t like peaches.” I could tell you all of this and it could very well be true. But it won’t negate the universal truth that dealing with rejection is not fun.
One of the few times I decided to “just go for it” and be direct and straightforward with a guy about being interested him, it was met with silence. The fact that the medium was texting just made the whole thing more pitiful. (I actually really hate what texting has done to our communication and relationships. But most of us are forced to communicate this way, and so here we are.) I had to swallow the bitter pill that his silence meant he was just not interested. And while I am usually the queen of, “Don’t take things personally,” it’s really hard to not take it personally when someone “personally” doesn’t like you back.
I may not have been excited about being rejected but I am glad it happened that way. Why? Because most of the time when we like someone, we go through the mental torture of wishing and hoping and wondering if they like us too. And the beauty of being honest and straightforward even when you’re rejected, is that you no longer need to put yourself through the mental torture; you now have an answer. Now when you’ve been rejected, it may not be an answer that you like, but it’s an answer nonetheless. And it’s an answer that you can deal with it. Because mental torture is not an answer; it’s not something anybody should be putting themselves through when there is an alternative.
The more I think about it, the more I want to live my romantic life the way I live all other parts of my life – direct and straightforward. It’s such a waste of time to live any other way, really. Whenever I want something in most areas of my life, I will either go for it or ask for it if it’s something I can’t obtain myself. And if I don’t get it, I live with the fact that I tried even when I failed. The truth is I have recently become extremely tired of these silly games that people play when they are interested in others romantically. The whole thing actually bores me half-way to death and I really wish we could all make a universal pact to stop it. But alas, the only person I can really change is myself.
Being direct and honest with people about liking them will almost always bring out that fear of being rejected, as it should. And rejection can make you feel (temporarily) insecure and filled with self-doubt – that is a reality. But the alternative is being stuck in a mental purgatory over whether someone likes you back or not. And one great thing rejection ought to teach you is to be kind but honest with people who you may not be interested in. And to be mindful of not putting them through any mental purgatory either.
Still, the greatest thing about rejection is that once you know, you know. And while you can spend time analyzing every minuscule utterance or gesture or interaction to try to understand the situation, chances are the person didn’t even really get to know you. So you don’t have to try to understand; rejection means chalking things up to better luck and moving on. Hopefully, without any bitterness in your heart. Because you might run into someone who likes peaches one day. And it would really, really, suck if you lost out because you had become a bitter peach.