Rejection slip


How do other people deal with rejection? They shrug it off. They drink. Heavily.

They go into denial. They become angry. They reject something or someone before it rejects them.

How do I deal with rejection? A little piece of me dies.


I could bore you with childhood traumas and tales of heartbreak and woe. Nah.

For some, rejection rolls right off of them. They honestly aren’t bothered by one or a hundred no’s. I wish I knew their secret. It could be that they hide it well, or that they know a yes is right around the corner.

It’s why I’m not cut out for sales. Can’t handle the slammed doors and abrupt hang-ups.

It’s not like journalism doesn’t have its own share of rejection: Stories are pitched daily, sometimes hourly. Sources dry up when they know you’re on to them. Good ideas litter the file cabinets and well-worn paths of the newsroom like so much pulp.

In the newsroom, I’m bulletproof. It goes with the territory.

In real life, I’m a mess. Job interviews, failed relationships, even simple social interaction — putting myself out there means potential, even likely, rejection.

I’m no better or worse than the next guy. And in case you’re looking for that “pick yourself up and dust yourself off” inspirational message, take a hike. It ain’t happening.

Yeah, I’m not a hermit in a cave, yet. My needs still outweigh the desire to run from the soul-crushing routine of ask, wait, slapped away.

The sting remains. Most relationships have ended with the girl getting away, sometimes far away. She must know something I don’t, since I usually want to stick it out. Looking back, that wasn’t the wisest choice for me.

That lingering sting must mean something, that I still care, that I am not a robot. And it stings, every time. Over the years, it has become less pronounced, through experience, anticipation or sheer numbing repetition.

(A latent fear of abandonment is in there, too, but I’ll spare you the psychobabble this time.)

With job interviews, jobs come and go. I’ve even said no a couple of times during this latest round. Sweet. To know your worth and to avoid settling are powerful moves to wield. I use them judiciously.

I begin to wonder what’s wrong with me. Have I offended you or the gods above? Am I defective, a poor fit for society, an outcast beyond redemption? Self-doubt is a killer.

At a party, I wander the room and find a group engaged in conversation. I stand, drink in hand, outside the circle, waiting for a crack in the confab. But no one budges, no one makes eye contact.

It is humiliating. I walk away, diminished by the experience.

Another little piece of me dies. Rejected, and it feels so bad.


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