“Rejection [ /rɪˈdʒɛkʃ(ə)n/] (n.) : the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc. / the action of spurning a person’s affections”

Dictionary definitions have a way of putting the ugliest of things into a neutral perspective. Never mind the mess of angst and pain that sully the noun in real-life, Oxford Online takes it, cleans it up and calls it what it is in less than 2 dozen words.  That, however, doesn’t cancel the fact that rejection hurts. More so if you’re on the receiving end. Within the past 30 days, I received two rejections for something that was semi-important (a term I use for when it IS important but not THAT important). Semi-important or not, I did invest quite a bit of time and effort into the projects mentioned, in spite of being under the weather, so the “We’re really sorry but …” didn’t bubble-wrap the fall. It didn’t feel like someone yanked the carpet from under my feet but it still stung, nevertheless, and it got me wondering …. if human beings have experienced rejection over and over and over again, why not develop some emotional immunity to it?

I have been awful at rejections or what I perceived to be rejections. I would cry and let it hurt me for days at end, which is a very stupid thing to do because it’s counterproductive, crumbles your self-esteem and makes you look like a puffer-fish with weird eyes especially if you’re a person who resorts to crying. I am almost envious of people who sail by rejections. “Oh so it’s a no? *smiles* Okay, thanks for your time *packs suitcase and walks out without looking back + continues on to next project/life goal/whatever*” Makes me gape and go “Wow! where did you get that superhuman power?”

I’ve spent the non-yoga bit of my morning mulling over rejection per se, disregarding the external variables around it, over my breakfast bowl and cranberries. And while I can’t list out all my thoughts and ideas, I’m going to settle for sharing thoughts that are currently seeing me through this sad+frustrating+painful time. (Trust me, I exaggerate, it’s not THAT bad :p).

Morning breakfast thoughts in no particular order :

EVERYONE FACES REJECTION save for … *drumroll*  NO. ONE. EVER. right? Or is that my brain trying to make me feel better? A quick check on google showed me that the hypothesis is indeed (and not surprisingly) true.  Authors and more authors, scientists (Socrates had to die when society rejected his “corrupt” teachings), musicians (the Beatles and Beethoven), artists, children (“No, you cannot be friends with us”), normal day-to day people who just want to propose to their girlfriends .. and this sad and ironic one where Bill Gates gets rejected by people from a third world country. Realize that rejection is part of being. Part of existing. Even animals get rejected sometimes.

DON’T INVEST TIME IN NEGATIVITY . This one, I am learning everyday. Something negative happens, turn around and walk the other direction. Do not (I know it’s hard, but try ok?) indulge and wallow in sadness and hurt. It will not help you. One or two days of being sad, staying in bed and moping is okay. But put a cap on that (two days max?) and after that, run like a hare. Throw all that energy into working on something productive like reading (if going back to work makes you wince because the wound is still raw-ish), making yourself happy (do what makes you smile) or just go. do. something! Anything. Distraction is key.

MATTER HAS ANTIMATTER , POSTIVE IONS HAVE NEGATIVE COUNTERPARTS. There simply must be an up-side to this whole rejection business! So look I did and found that there IS some form of benefit to rejection — even sexual rejection :p

WHAT DOES THIS TEACH ME? Am I not giving enough? Do I have to work harder? Is my style becoming stale? Are there things I need to re-vamp? Shall I probe further and find out what I can improve on? Is this simply a mismatch between me and the other institution/person/etc. and it’s no one’s “fault”/”mistake”? If there really isn’t anything at all to learn from this experience (which I highly doubt), then drop it. Walk it off.

FOCUS. Everything we do in life, at the very basis of it, has an underlying reason/purpose. What was the initial purpose of your project/relationship/paper/research/etc.? Why were you doing it? If you believe in it and are really passionate about it, don’t give up on it. This rejection is only a stepping stone to better things to come.  If whatever it was was a waste of time, something you couldn’t care less about, then why should you nurse the rejection?

YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF HOW YOU RESPOND. Before you accuse me of being a zen-centric, head-in-the-clouds, patchouli-scented yogi prototype, let me assure you that although I’m NOT,  that statement, however is true (and yes, I used to laugh at people who went all zen-like on me). The rejection slap was real but ultimately, it’s all you. Whether you get stronger, better, faster, wiser from this experience or turn into a bitter old hag is totally your call. You could consider “therapy”  (100 days of rejection therapy) if you want to. Hey, if it helps, why not?

So there. If all else fails and you feel like you could cry from being rejected, hold your chin up, pick up your diamond-studded dragon-slaying sword and get your focus straight. Why are you doing this? Are you passionate enough about it? What does it take for you to give up? OR Do you love this enough to not give up? Ultimately, what is your goal?

Happy mid-week and ..