Why Succumbing To The Crippling Fear Of Rejection Will Ruin Your Life

by Adalay Katch

I recently received a letter in the mail that read as follows:

Dear Ms. Katch, On behalf of _________ Foundation, I would like to thank you for applying to the ___________ 2015 Scholarship. The Scholarship Committee has been very fortunate to receive many strong applications this year. With an impressive applicant pool, choosing a scholarship recipient proved especially trialing for our committee. Unfortunately, another finalist was selected to receive the award. Thank you for your interest in the...

Blah, blah, blah... you get the point.

I was leaning over my kitchen counter, reading a rejection letter from a scholarship committee for an application I had spent months revising.

Nonetheless, I swallowed the pit of frustration that spewed over me into the bottom of my stomach, threw the letter into the trash and went about my day.

A few hours later, I found myself texting one of my closest friends about a guy I had recently gone out with:

“Ugh, he still hasn’t text me! That’s two days now. He’s not interested. I’m embarrassed that I care...why did I even try?” “You can’t take it personal, Adalay. If he’s not interested, it has nothing to do with you and it’s his problem.”

The problem is, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that it does have something to do with me — it has everything to do with me. And, as much as I’m embarrassed to admit, small glimpses of rejection like this have previously kept me away from dating and “putting myself out there” altogether.

Countless scholarship committees, employers, clubs, friends and college admissions boards have rejected me.

I am a 21-year-old female living in New York City; rejection is a part of my everyday life. And, yet, rejection — even premature rejection from a man — is not something I've learned to “swallow into the bottom of my stomach, throw in the trash and go about my day.”

The worst part is, I'm not alone. I find myself constantly comforting friends who are overly anxious about whether someone they met is interested.

We all constantly face rejection in our everyday lives. Why, then, does rejection from the opposite sex linger in the most crippling of ways?

Ultimately, many conversations we have with others when we worry about whether someone is interested in us or not, sound the same:

“He’s probably just busy, just give him some time.” “It’s her loss if she’s not into you.” “Maybe he’s doing that stupid 'wait three days before contact' rule.”

At the end of every such conversation, our feelings stay the same. It does not matter what anyone says to comfort us; rejection from the opposite sex hurts in a very distinct way.

I’ve had friends comfort me in every-which-way and I still always leave the conversation with the mindset that he hasn’t texted me because he’s not interested.

And, he’s not interested in me because I’m not good enough for him, and I’m not good enough for him because something is wrong with me.

When in reality, my logical mind knows the only thing truly wrong with me is I completely overthink these situations, and place so much value on what this person, whom I barely know, may or may not think of me. And, yet, I can’t keep my mind from drifting into countless ill-minded possibilities:

1. Did I do something wrong?

2. Does he find me unattractive?

3. Did my conversation on our date bore him?

4. Does he think I’m too easy?

5. Did he reconsider?

6. Did he happen to meet someone a lot prettier than I am?

7. Was I too much?

8. Is he embarrassed that he even showed interest in me?

9. Did I talk too much?

10. Does he think I’m fat?

11. Did I seem too uptight?

12. Was I too boring?

13. Did he wish he hadn’t wasted his time?

14. Did he find my interests trivial?

15. Am I not intelligent enough?

16. Am I the kind of girl he’d f*ck, but not the kind of girl he'd date?

If he doesn’t text me back. If he doesn’t ask for a second date. If he proposes we hang out in a more casual setting. If he brings up sex soon after we first meet.

I run through a list of my faults and all the reasons why he’s probably not interested. Yes, I am not the most confident person. Maybe I am immature; maybe I don’t give anyone a proper chance; maybe I jump to conclusions. Maybe I over-think things.

I am aware the problem is within me. All I know is, it hurts — and I am not the only one who feels this way. I am not the only one who makes herself feel this way.

We are afraid of the opposite sex rejecting us. So afraid, in fact, we overanalyze to the point we place rejection where it never existed in the first place.

The chance of not being smart enough, pretty enough, interesting enough or plain and simple, not good enough, hurts.

So, we shy away and we hide where only scholarship committees, employers and admissions boards, can find us and reject us. When, really, we are the only ones rejecting ourselves.

Maybe he or she wasn’t interested; maybe he or she is looking for someone different, or maybe he or she realized he or she is too busy to be dating right now. Maybe.

The possibilities are truly endless, but they are just that: possibilities. We allow possibilities to belittle us, and we reject what we do know for certain: We get to know people who intrigue us. We give people we just met a chance. We express our interest how we best know how. Our interest is not reciprocated.

This all we know. Sure, it sucks. But, even if this interest is not reciprocated in the coming days, we will not change.

In the big picture, our lives will go back to being the same. That person holds very little significance; the only way someone's existence will affect our lives is if we let it.

If we allow ourselves to spend the time it takes to overthink why someone may have rejected us, we bar ourselves from experiencing certain moments in our lives.

And, self-induced rejection is the only kind of rejection letter you can’t just get up and throw away.