Feelings of rejection are normally reflections of past events or experiences that made and still make us feel left out. We probably tried to reach out to someone and he/she ignored us. There are several reasons why we develop feelings of rejection. And for the most part, these feelings have a way of making us feel insecure. Some people develop introvert personalities to protect themselves from being rejected again. Feelings of rejection can also create frustration, anger, resentment, sadness and ultimately, isolation.
In this article, I will share a personal experience about rejection, how this experience made me feel, and how a fashion-modeling instructor helped me regain my confidence. In part 2 of this article, I will then share the 4 proven tools that I utilized to liberate myself from feelings of rejection.
I didn’t grow up with my biological father. There were times when I missed him so much, so I would escape from home and go to his family with intent to bond with them.
When I was 13 years old, I remember escaping from home to go to an auntie’s home (my dad’s sister), who happened to live about 7 miles away. I found my auntie and her kids having lunch. When she saw me, she told me that I should never go back to her home: that I wasn’t needed, and in her opinion, I wasn’t part of her family. She also told me that even if they had extra food to share, she would rather throw it in the trash than give it to me. “I hate you,” she said. I asked her why she hated me, and she told me that she could never allow her kids to associate with someone as needy, ugly and poor as I was. As I walked the seven miles back home, in the scolding heat, hungry and thirsty, I cried hysterically. I felt rejected and sad. And I believe that was the day I developed a mental conclusion that I was a societal reject.
What this Experience did to me:
For many years I felt that I wasn’t good enough. At the back of my mind, I consistently heard my auntie telling me how needy, ugly and poor I was. Consequently, I lost my confidence. I didn’t feel good about myself. I concluded that no one liked me; and as a result, I isolated myself. I dropped all my friends and took refuge in reading books. And what was strange is that the kids at school and in my neighborhood also started rejecting me. Teachers would pick on me. I initiated conflicts with the few friends who stuck with me because I thought that it would be easier to break up with them sooner than later–since I was convinced that in the end, they would also reject me. I was always sad.
As of today, and after many years of studying human behavior, and psychology, I understand that since I was convinced that I would always be rejected, my brain looked for ways and experiences for me to be rejected–so that I didn’t think that I was crazy. I have also learned that whatever stories we tell ourselves, about who we are, are reflected in our experiences.
How a Fashion-modeling Instructor Helped me.
When I was 20 years old, in college, my friends persuaded me to participate in the Miss Uganda Beauty Contest. By that time, I thought I was over my auntie’s story. But the moment I went through the preliminary screening process, my auntie’s voice started mumbling at the back of my mind consistently; “You can never win; you are seriously ugly; no one will vote for you” the voice went on and on with all kinds of negative messages about what was wrong with me. Every time we were practicing the catwalk or how to pose for pictures, I would shiver, and at times even cry. At one point I wanted to quit the contest because I was convinced that the judges would reject me at first sight. But my mother kept encouraging me to move forward.
One afternoon as we prepared for the Miss Photogenic portion of the contest, I went to the restroom, sat in one corner and started crying. Soon after, the modeling instructor came to the restroom and saw me weeping. She came and sat next to me.
“Why are you crying?” she said. I didn’t know how to explain how I felt.
“Common, tell me. Maybe I can help you.” She continued.
“I don’t think I’m good enough. I think the judges will reject me.”
“Who told you that?” She questioned.
Amidst tears, I summarized my auntie’s story.
“How long ago did your auntie tell you this nonsense?” She asked.
“About 7 years ago,” I answered.
She then held my hand and said, “Never let anyone’s perception of you determine how you should feel about yourself. You have the power to replace the bad things that people have said to you, with the good things that you want to feel about yourself.” She explained. These statements were like light bulbs in my mind. They helped me realize that in spite of what my auntie had told me, I still had the power to decide how I could feel about myself.
The instructor helped me off the floor, quickly re-did my makeup and off to the stage, I went feeling much better about myself. And although I didn’t win the Miss photogenic contest, I felt energetic and hopeful that I would eventually love myself unconditionally. While I knew that this would take time, the instructor’s advice had laid a firm foundation for me to start changing my self-concept.
Over the years, and now as a counselor and transformational coach, I have referred to this story to continue empowering myself and also help my clients deal with rejection-related insecurities. And I always remember what Dr. Wayne Dyer once said; “it is not the snake bite that kills a person; it’s the venom.” This means that it’s not what people say to you that affect you; it’s how you interpret it.
Love and light