Rejection is one of the most painful experiences, yet we tend to give it so freely. We live in a society full of this sort of negatively that every time we don’t like something or someone we turn the other cheek, offer opinions, judge… Why? It’s easy. It’s easier to focus on other’s faults or problems than to address our own. Think about it, if we focus on them then they are the problem and not us. At least that was me. No matter how hard I tried to battle with my insecurities, I always brought them out on others thinking it would make me feel better. Well it didn’t. If anything it ruined or damaged relationships along the way, made me pretend I was someone different and prevented me from living life to its fullest.
Growing up I had it pretty easy from my perspective. When I say easy, I mean that my problems were miniscule compared to what the youth of today are dealing with on a daily basis: more and more social media, split families, changed social norms, lack of God… the list goes on. Even though my life appeared easy, I’ve dealt with a lot of rejection in my life. I bet many that know me have no idea about the majority of it. I have always been a very friendly person in my opinion. I grew up very involved in activities, church, sports and never turned down a social event.
However, at the age of 14 I had a wake up call that changed the direction of my life. After school one day my freshman year, I had approached a classmate whom I had known since kindergarten and started up a conversation as we sat waiting for our rides. Before it went anywhere, she cut me off and said “Why are you talking to me?” I was appalled at her words then responded with, “What do you mean why?!” Her response changed me… “Because don’t you have ‘better and cooler’ people to talk to than me?” I remember freezing at that moment and her walking away. I went home that night and told my mom that I have to switch schools. I never want anyone to think that they are not good enough to talk to me, what does that even mean anyway? I’m not anything special, so what made me better than her?
I immediately enrolled in one of the largest public high schools in the state leaving my life of being somebody… an athlete, top of my class, popular, social… to a nobody. Other than my dear friend Sara, nobody at my new school really stuck around more than a few months maybe a year. By my senior year I ate lunch in the library and had my own routes to dodge other students that made me feel inferior. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find my place there. I lost myself.
In 2003, I left my hometown and went 10 hours away for college. I had the time of my life starting out. Back to my glory days with awesome friends, perfect grades and so much to do. However, at some point it slipped away all over again. It wasn’t until this past year that it became so evident of why I couldn’t overcome that rejection that happened over 15 years ago. It was because I was placing my value in the hands of others instead of God. Much like my father I have this inner desire for people to like me and think that I am a good person. The moment that I get a sense of rejection a cloud magically appears over my head, I shut down and it’s hard to get past it. How ridiculous do I feel right now admitting this ON SOCIAL MEDIA!?!?!? I mean really, why should I care how much people think of me? But I do. We all do.
After years and I mean years of struggling with this, it is still a part of me to this day. The difference and wisdom that I have gained is that I no longer let their approval define me.
Again, REJECTION – the thing that hurts the worst yet we give it the most. When my life crumbled before me a year ago, I remember thinking I can never leave my house again. Everyone will know about what happened and pity or judge me. I am that person now that no one will care to get to know… I am a reject. To be honest, I was only afraid because I knew that if roles were reversed how I would have responded to me. The one that didn’t try to understand, placed blame and didn’t try to get to know the real me. We continually walk around in our daily lives thinking that our ways are the best ways forgetting how unhappy or messy our lives can be. We criticize, accuse, reject and judge people because of our own insecurities.
It was at that point when I really realized the bubble that I had been living in and what I had been missing. Everywhere I turned people embraced me, loved me, didn’t judge me and supported me. I learned not to be ashamed. I returned to my job after 4 months on maternity leave embracing the new me. If people rejected me it was their loss. I was transparent with everyone around me with the attitude take it or leave it. What I gained was amazing! You see, I learned about this thing called empathy. It’s easy to be sympathetic towards people pretending like we understand, but to empathize is a whole other story. Now when I hear people’s testimonies I become them. Their pain becomes my pain. Their rejection, feeling of worthlessness, fear all become a part of me. It’s because I get it. We lie to everyone around us on a daily basis. They ask “How are you?” and you instantly reply “Doing well!” and yet you are torn to shreds on the inside refusing to admit the truth. The truth to us often means that we are not normal and not being normal makes you a “REJECT”.
What I know now is that I feel more loved and accepted than I ever have before. I also know that before I immediately judge someone walking down the street, I need to pause and acknowledge that I don’t know them and what they struggle with. Maybe the sweater is torn because it’s all she has and she just wants to be warm. Maybe he’s overweight because no matter what he does his body just won’t adjust. Maybe the kids are so dysfunctional because all they want is to be loved by their parents. Maybe she’s a single mom because she didn’t have a choice.
I challenge you with this – Don’t be quick to judge. Every time you want to say something negative about anyone or anything, STOP! Everyone has a story and if you don’t have “time” to know theirs then you are really only responding on your own insecurities causing more pain. It still doesn’t fix the real problem… you. People are more relatable and real when they can admit that they aren’t normal. I can tell you first hand, it’s one of the most rewarding things you will ever experience if you have enough courage to step up, let people in, and love others like Christ loves us.
Thanks Sara for always being such a selfless friend, never quick to judge and always there for me! xoxo Cara