Why I Enjoy Rejection

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Why I Enjoy Rejection
Contributor
Love

When I was young, I faced ample rejection. From gym class kickball to summer camp cabins to high school dances, I concluded I was a Rejectable Person. I hated the feeling. In retrospect, I didn’t hate the rejection itself, but its aftermath. My self-esteem was already flimsy.

Rejection augmented my rationale for disliking myself--if other people didn’t like me, why would I like me? The conclusion might have confirmed my subconscious, but it didn’t soothe it. I learned to treat rejection like an allergy: the lower my proximity, the lower my chance at an encounter.

I spent a lot of time alone, but I enjoyed it. Without a companion to share my hobbies and adventures with, I cultivated some of my fondest memories by myself. They say solitude builds character. However, it also builds eccentricity, typically manifested through a strange sense of humor and obscure interests.

I felt different. I might’ve declared that I Am Not Like Other Girls. As an adult, though — with a deeper understanding of womanhood — I reject this claim. We all should because the expression implies that women are a monolith. (Hello, misogyny has entered the chat.)

Contrary to popular belief, plenty of women play sports and video games and eschew makeup and push-up bras. There is no nobility in disavowing feminine norms for the sake of being “different,” because we’re all different.

Even the most purportedly “basic” girl you know contains a layer of individuality. Maybe she collects clocks. Or eats string beans covered in vanilla frosting. Or has a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fetish. 

I digress.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Deal With Rejection Like A Boss (& Not Get Stuck In A Shame-Spiral)

Indeed, no girl is like another girl. Yet I will say that most girls hide their quirks.

I used to do the same. Half because my childhood rejection traumatized me, but also because conventional dating advice encourages the behavior. You know, keep introductory text exchanges and first dates light; don’t discuss religion, politics, or any topic that falls under the “controversial” umbrella; present yourself as the most wholesome mate for your suitor to fall in love with. We hide our eccentricities because we wonder: if I share more, will I seem like a total weirdo?

I used to ponder the same. However, I was asking an incomplete question: I feared I’d seem weird, but to whom? A guy I met five minutes ago? Was I that desperate for acceptance that I’d suppress all that encompasses me? For a guy I don’t even know whether I’m compatible with? 

Or, was I afraid to seem weird because I genuinely did think I was weird? 

I wouldn’t assume the latter, but my qualms projected my personal feelings. I worried men would judge me because I judged me, and my lack of confidence permeated my dating experiences.

In order to escape rejection, I hid the ostensibly “weird” parts of myself and molded my personality around my love interests. I struggled to find someone with whom I could live my truth because I wasn’t living my truth. As these relationships progressed and I revealed more of myself, my partner didn’t respond well. Rightfully so, though. We weren’t a match. I wasn’t the person I’d conveyed myself to be, so we subsequently parted ways. That brought me back to square one: alone and insecure, except now, with time lost.

Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I can’t recall the “inciting incident” in which I decided to shamelessly be myself, but I assume it was after another failed talking stage — after months of chasing a connection that didn’t actually exist.

Or maybe it was after feeling repression to the point of suffocation. After realizing that rejection stings like a knife cut, but repression aches like a migraine: a dull nagging that devolves into an insidious, debilitating pain. 

RELATED: What Kind Of Person You Are, Based On How You Handle Rejection

In hindsight, the aforementioned relationships didn’t bring me much joy. They provided partnership, but when did I become someone who needed partnership? I was tired of feeling alone, but no one told me that you can feel alone in a relationship, too. Happiness and freedom aren’t a dichotomy. I couldn’t experience one devoid of its complement, and I deserve both.

Now, I play a game on first dates.

It’s not an “official” game, because that would require the other party’s engagement. It’s a game I play in my head, an inside joke between me and myself.

I have a lot of those.

Here’s the objective: I like to be as goofy, blunt, and brazenly myself as I possibly can, and see if the guy wants to see me again.

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Basically, I try to scare him away. Either outcome is a win-win — if he doesn’t call me back, I’ve saved time I would’ve wasted with an unsuitable partner. If he does call me, the dude genuinely likes me.

Lately, I find myself praying for the former. My track record of choosing men isn’t the greatest. If I can winnow my options, I’ll have stronger odds at smart choices. In the same vein, my “game” has re-framed my dating perception. I’m showing up myself, regardless. Instead of wondering whether the guy likes me, I ask if I like him.

The game only works if you’re immune to rejection. I promise it’s not the monster under the bed you perceive it to be. Dating aside, rejection occurs in friendships and the workforce — you can’t avoid it, but you can adjust. The shift begins and ends with you.

If you embrace your eccentricity — and learn to love it — you won’t need others to validate how you already feel.

Interestingly, I experience more dating success than I did prior to my new mindset. Authenticity is palpable. You’d be surprised how many people gravitate towards it.

Rejection is less personal than you perceive it to be. You’re not going to be liked by everyone. Do you like everyone? I certainly don’t. How many times have you denied someone’s affection because you didn’t feel the same, with no articulable reason? Wouldn’t you rather know before you’re entangled in a situation you shouldn’t have entered? Time is your most valuable commodity; respecting it respects yourself.

I’m still figuring out who I am, but I know who I’m not. I refuse to be that girl again, and I refuse to accompany folks who make me feel like I should be that girl again. I’d rather be rejected for who I am than loved for who I’m not, because if the latter doesn’t exist, then neither does the love. I choose me, and I won’t entertain people who don’t.

RELATED: How To Let Your Fear Of Rejection Go So You Can Relax & Enjoy The Fun Of Going On First Dates

Melissa Kerman is a writer from New York. You can follow her on Instagram, @melissakerman.