The Truth About Rejection (And Erika's Year of Dating)

We have all been there. We weren’t welcome at a table in school, we didn’t make a team, or a cute boy or girl said, “no,” to us. We have all been rejected at some point in time in our lives.

This post is a branch off of the the last. In the last blog post, I talk about how shame is such a driver in what we do. In this one, I am talking about how rejection is the other secret driver and “sabotager” in our lives. I want to redefine it, and empower us to look at it differently.

Rejection is a key player in our lives because as humans, we are hardwired to belong. To be in community. To be connected. I believe rejection to be such a huge driver in our lives because it goes directly to the primal human need of belonging. When we experience it, many of us hear, “You do not belong.” Period. And when that part of ourselves is told that, it can hit us hard.

This year has been the first time in my life as “Just Erika.” When I left my family to go to college, I met my former husband the first week in Arizona. Shortly after that, we were together for the next 11 years. I had the same group of friends basically since 2nd grade (which, I have come to find is quite rare), and my family was one of those tight-knit midwest ones that all live within a 15 mile radius of one another. I was comfortable with this, and even though I moved all over the country in my 20’s (I have lived in 5 states now), I did so with my former husband. I always had “this tribe.” And then came the move to Charlotte….

I consider myself a rejection expert after this last year, lol. We were only here nine months when our marriage ended. One could say I did the rejecting because I was the one who initiated the divorce process originally. And then two weeks later after this, I got laid off my job. This was due to budget cuts, but man, I still felt that ping and sting. With the next job, I got laid off a month after starting. And yes, that was the one where the hiring manager was criticizing my hair and the way I dressed. Now with that I just felt rage and relief more than grief, but still, ugh! Then starts the year of dating. Oh my heavens, this year of dating. I will hone in on this experience in particular to discuss redefining rejection.

Now, dating. Mind you, I have never dated in my life. EVER. Like I said, I met my former husband when I was 18. In high school, I had only three boyfriends that did not last more than three-five months. The first one I broke up with, the second broke up with me and I did not know it (that was fresh), and the third one was long distance and he cheated on me the entire time with his ex girlfriend. Classy. So needless to say, swiping left and right on the Bumble and Tinder was a little intimidating. I was back out in the real world, and the last go around of seeing men was not pretty!

It was interesting because after my marriage ended I was so clear on what I needed and wanted. I had come to know myself so well, my needs, desires, passions, and dreams, that I knew I would not settle for anything less than THAT. However, THAT is not necessarily obvious on a Tinder or Bumble profile. So one actually has to put themselves out there and meet the person, have a conversation with this person, perhaps even smooch and get touchy feely with this person. Only to come to find… they are not THAT.

My goodness, I had my pick of the litter. It was raining men! Hallelujah! Kind of…

The excitement of being free to explore was certainly palpable; however, the hard reality of knowing what I wanted and then finding men who were not that was also palpable. I hated doing the rejecting. I felt, “bad.” I did not want to hurt anyone’s feeling, but it was what it was. Here is a nugget of wisdom I learned in the process.

YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS; all you can be responsible for is treating others with kindness, respect, and care in the process, while being truthful and authentic. So be that.

I kept going on date after date only to find that these particular men weren’t THAT. Does that mean anything is wrong with them? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!! There was nothing “wrong” with any of these fellas. It was merely not a match.

There was also a handful of me getting rejected, too. Even though I was sensing it was not a match or something was off, they cut if off before I did. And ughhhh. The sting! I remember feeling frustrated too because I did not want to feel that sting and angst, I knew it was for the best! Cerebrally I knew this, in my core though, it struck a painful chord. I will get back to this painful chord later in the post.

Amazing how the universe will provide the right reading materials at the right time. I read an amazing book on dating last year called “Models” by Mark Manson. It is actually for men, but I believe men and women can both equally benefit from it. THIS IS MY BOOK RECOMMENDATION FOR THIS POST! Pick it up, grab a beverage, sit back and be highly entertained while pondering in deep thought. Mark said one of the most profound perspectives on rejection I have ever heard.

“Rejection exists for a reason- it keeps people apart that aren’t good for each other.” -Mark Manson

I take it even one step further and call rejection a BLESSING. It keeps people apart that aren’t good for each other, what a gift! Oh my lawd, I had never thought of it that way! Think about it. Anyone who has ever rejected you or the other way around… was it a fairytale situation that just slipped out from the grasps of your control? Probably not. You perhaps cared about this person, but really think about whether this would have been healthy in the long run, whether it was a friendship, a job, a relationship, or family member.

I had one date that stands out in my mind. He was in town on business and he was a looker. I mean CUTE. My giggly teenager self was giddy. We ended up having a fabulous date followed by some fabulous intimacy. IT WAS GOOD. It was the kind of night that you keep thinking about the next day, and the day after that. Even though I did not see this being a boyfriend or a husband, I was interested in seeing him again when he was in town to share stories, dinner, and then bodies haha. Hey, even though I am single, a girl still needs some TLC now and again!

So we were texting back and forth, and he was being weird. He kept dodging questions, not responding to texts, and I am like WTF. And then to top it off, after all this dodgy weirdness, he sends me a text asking to do something sexually I am NOT comfortable with or into at all. I tell him no, not my thing. He kept pushing the issue, which REALLY erked me (respect boundaries people!), and I stayed hard with my no. The next thing you know I get a text that initially pissed me off, but ended up being a gift.

“Hey Erika, I want to let you know I think you’re a really amazing and fun person, and super sexy, but I think we are out of alignment on some things. Because of that, I think it is best to not see each other.”

First I was like, “What the hell is the matter with this person if we can have a fun night like we had and just walk away like that?” The answer actually is A LOT. This guy had more issues with intimacy and actual connection than Sports Illustrated. And honestly, because he had fun and because our interaction had depth to it, he bolted. His problem, which would have been a problem for me ongoing. This goes back to the whole “Rejection keeps people apart that aren’t good for each other.” Even in a friendly context, this man would NOT have been good for me, because I do need connection, depth, and intimacy versus simply mechanical screwing. And he was not in a space where he could handle what I was bringing to the table.

But what he said changed my outlook on rejection forever.

ALL REJECTION IS, IS NON-ALIGNMENT.

Rejection has nothing to do with you. It is merely the concept of trying to put a square peg in a round hole. So many of us have NEVER been taught this, and so we sabotage trying to NOT be rejected, thinking subconsciously it IS us. That something is inherently wrong with us (which is shame), and then we try to make our square peg selves into round holes which is self sabotage and inauthentic. Of course the intention is out of need for belonging. But here is what I have found…

Your square peg tribe is out there.

This is where you have to be brave. You have to trust that your people are out there. The ones that ARE good for you, and you are good for them. The ones where you fit and click, where you align. The ones where you feel at home. It can be scary walking away from relationships because you don’t know what is on the other side. Believe me, I get it. When I walked away from my marriage, and was then let go of my jobs in a new city where I was by no means established yet, I felt an overwhelming amount of questioning, “Where do I belong?” And the truth is, I belonged first and foremost to me. From there, I had to trust that as I held on to truth and pursued life under that understanding. I trusted that my tribe would follow once I walked forward alone into the wilderness of life.

And it has.

I have been cultivating a wonderful tribe of friends here in Charlotte and abroad on my travels. I have felt such joy and gratitude. I have felt so at home in this process. YES it has been scary. Yes I have spent much time alone. But the reward is great, and it allows me to connect and live more authentically and deeply than I ever have. Yes, I am still single, and that is OK. I keep honing in on aligning with myself and cleaning up my vibration and energy. I know when my person comes along, it is going to be AMAZING. And worth the wait :). In the meantime, I have found people I vibe well with and find gratitude and appreciation in that. They are authentic connections and are wonderful for what they are.

This is important to teach our children. Rejection has nothing to do with them and can be a helpful tool as opposed to something “bad.”

I would love to see us start using rejection as a helpful tool and indicator (as described above) as opposed to something “bad.”

Now, going back to the painful chord it strikes within us… I have found it does not have to be that way and it can be healed. That instead of just knowing rejection is a blessing, we can actually feel the blessing and celebrate it to our core! Yeah!

Now this may sound a little woo woo to some of y’all (its only a little woo haha), but the way I was able to heal that painful chord was through inner child work (I will be writing a blog post in the near future about this). I experienced a lot of rejection around ages 2, 5, and 7, and so I have been intentional about doing the work around those ages so I no longer internalize the experience. And it has absolutely worked. I do inner child work with clients now, and the results have been nothing short of miraculous and powerful. I encourage all of you to look up inner child work, and if it is something that interests you, then contact yours truly.

So that is that. Rejection is a blessing. Thank rejection for keeping you apart from people who weren’t going to be good for you. Be mindful and ask yourself, “What age did that become so painful for me?” Start to see if you’re sabotaging your life by getting yourself in constant situations of rejection in order to “be in control and have you create it before anyone else can do it to you” (this is common). Are you agreeable with everyone to avoid it? Are you avoiding things and people you want to explore because you fear rejection? How is this holding you back in life? You are internalizing rejection with shame? And lastly, consider inner child healing to overcome these obstacles regarding rejection.

These are the rabbit holes that are worth going down. I promise you that.

Shine on my friends.

E

Erika ShepardComment