Understanding This Strange Truth About Rejection Lessens Its Sting
I am a complete failure when it comes to softball.
As a kid, whenever I was forced into playing, I moved my (inevitable) outfielder position to inside the tree line that surrounded the field. I figured this way I was safe from being hit from any rocketed balls and my inability to cover the territory would be obvious to the other outfielders so that they could strategize how to adjust for my ineptitude.
And playing defense was actually my stronger suit. There were a few ground balls that I was able to deliver to a base. Always too late. But better late than never, right?
At bat, I have never ever even hit the ball. No balls. No fouls. No contact.
Like I said, a complete and utter failure.
And that never bothered me. Unlike academics, softball was never something I cared about or wanted to be good at. It just wasn’t for me and that was okay.
Except when it meant I was rejected.
Every time the team-picking commenced, I felt discarded as my name was inevitably the last one spoken. I didn’t want my name called yet at the same time, the fact that the team didn’t want to call my name had an edge to it.
Because here’s the strange truth about rejection – It stings even when we’re turned down for something we don’t want.
Think about that for a moment. Part of the pain of rejection comes from a general desire to be desired and a need to be the one to control the outcome.
I don’t really want it but I want to be the one to make the decision not to have it.
Just because rejection hurts, does not mean that you’re being turned away from something you wanted. We confuse that sometimes, linking the pain to the loss and assuming that the loss is the sole cause of the pain.
My classmates were thinking rationally when picking teams, calling names based upon a mutually beneficial relationship. When I was feeling rejected, I was responding emotionally, allowing my feelings to assign more importance to the rebuffing than it deserved.
Sometimes rejection is simply a sign that it wasn’t the right fit. And the other person has reached that awareness before you.
That’s how I now see the end of my first marriage. It was actually something that was no longer good for either one of us. I just didn’t know it yet.
The rejection hurt like hell (especially with the manner that it was delivered – like a baseball torpedoed to the heart), but it was ultimately a gift.
“You’ll be happier,” he typed in the letter that was left behind, “You’ll bounce back and live a happier and more honest life than I could ever give you.”
And ultimately, he was right. Not so much about the bouncing – that was more of a long, hard climb up a muddy slope – but about the happier.