How Getting Rejected Changed My Life for the Better
The other day, I asked for what I needed - really needed - and didn’t get it. I told someone I loved him, but I didn’t ask for it back. I asked for presence, for communication - for some peace between us. I asked assertively because I needed to ask and needed to tell him, not because he needed to hear. Not because I wanted to beg. Just because it was time. Because I deserved to say it.
The details are not important. It’s all about a boy - brilliant, sexy, funny. Knows me better than anyone else. You can imagine. But he couldn’t give me what I wanted or needed, I’m not sure which. The problem is I didn’t know who or what could.
I’ve lived my twenty-two years relatively well. I always say that if you ask the universe, gently, truthfully for what you want and you live authentically, the right things will come to you. But, after years of not getting what I wanted, of things not just falling into place, I was beginning to question that. I mean, what was I doing wrong that the Universe - whatever or whoever that is - refused to give me what I thought I so desperately needed. I’m a vegan. I practice yoga. I meditate, when I can. I share my love and my knowledge. I compliment others generously. Really, what else was there to do?
And so, month after month, I spent my time dreading a loss that hadn’t even happened yet. I dreaded being empty - personally, socially, professionally. More than anything, I dreaded not knowing.
So, after days - years, really - of being exhausted, miserable, uncertain, so ready to move on (whatever that means) and live truly, authentically, happily - I scribbled a note to myself. What if I was honest with me, I thought, and I wrote: “I’m grounding myself. Holding myself back. What would happen if I let go? I would soar.” And there was the answer - I was doing it to myself. Too afraid to be powerful, to have to release, to move on or just move, to be everything I was meant to be, I was getting in my own way. And, then, the truth: “I’m so afraid to face the emptiness - or is it the fullness of my life? What if I’m not distracted? What if I’m here in every moment? I’d have everything.”
And there it was. I’d have everything. So I decided to reclaim my life. For once, to ask myself for what I wanted and to tell others what I needed. That would require being vulnerable, being willing to accept rejection, to hear the word ‘no.’ It would require letting go - of my perceptions, my expectations, maybe even of some of the people I loved the most.
And so I told someone I loved him. He couldn’t give it back to me. For years, I was petrified from thinking what it’d be like to hear that response - to know that I had done everything, and gotten nothing. I would have to be empty, for once. Really empty. To sit in the mess, the confusion, the chaos, the uncertainty of my own life. I spent all of this energy worrying, agonizing, dreading, imagining what it’d be like to know that I can’t have the thing I wanted most. I imagined what it’d be like to not receive it. What would that next day be like? I thought I wouldn’t be able to get off the couch, to eat, to sleep, to do my work. For me, it seemed apocalyptic. A final no.
But I garnered the strength to ask for what I needed. And what did I realize? Being rejected is the best thing that ever happened to me because, finally, I realized that being on the other side, in this place of uncertainty and emptiness, is thrilling. All that worry, worry, worry about things falling apart--before they even did. And now that the thing I dreaded most has happened, I’ve realized how much energy I wasted. My greatest fears came true, and I’m still here. Still living. And not just living, but thriving with new ambition, new clarity. I’m running, drinking vegetable juices, working on my business with a new passion. It’s brilliant, freeing, empowering. And devastating, of course. I still love him, even if he can’t give me everything I want and everything I need from him. But, for the first time, I’m living in the uncertainty and I’m not scared. Imagining what it’s like to be in the chaos, the confusion, is far worse than actually being there.
In fact, not getting the thing you want most in life and seeing that life still goes on - and brilliantly, at that - makes me feel like I can ask anyone for anything. If I can ask for the enormity of love and communication and peace, if I can be that vulnerable, then what can’t I ask for? For the first time, I know that rejection is ok. So, please, ask for what you want. I promise you, being on the other side is so much more brilliant.