It is hard being told that you are not enough. No matter the context it is still going to hurt. Something intangible is shaken, stirred, spat out and before you know it, you are curled up into a little ball, not knowing whether you have internal strength and resolve to rise again. Of course, in saying this, it is not always so difficult. The degree to how deeply you are affected by the said rejection comes back to the original product. How much do you care about the turkey sitting on the kitchen table, the bubbles in the bath, and the sunflowers in the field? These things can’t reject you but they do represent an object that may or may not be separated from the greater landscape that you occupy. If that succulent turkey was the only meat that you had desired for days, months, possibly years and then were told, in whatever way, that there would be no turkey, how would you feel? If you had dreamed of lavishly waddling through a bath full of bubbles, how would you react to the knowledge that all the stores in the surrounding areas were sold out of stock for the foreseeable future? And all those dreams of dancing through a meadow of long, dainty sunflowers were replaced by a barren field, maybe covered in lush, green grass and daisies… you get my drift. We’ve all had moments when the very thing we have lusted over, be it a great job, an exciting opportunity or the affections of a beautiful, compelling person, have been ripped away from us due to a cruel twist of fate or the old notion that it was simply never written in the clouds. The feeling that follows results in a reaction that is at once contradictory and confounding. Some people become stricken by shock, paralysed by the magnitude of the scenario. Others respond with a violent swing of the previously nonchalant mood, whilst there are some who will respond with bitter, hopeless tears.
The vast majority of people have experienced rejection when the petty nature of our advances have been seen through and cut down. Wandering up to a lonely sailor at the bar, proposing a long night of shots, and sailing a different type of seven seas only for the sailor to steer that ship off course and into another booth. The sting doesn’t last. It’s only minutes until the rejection is a mere buoy in an ocean of unfinished scotch and sodas, unwrapped tackle and barnacles being scrapped from the bottom of the ship. Apologies for the bad sailing sexual innuendo and I’m not even sure what the last one means either, but hear me out. What I mean with the Sailor Jo(e) and the Lonely Hearts’ Club example is that he or she will generally brush that rejection off quietly, with little fuss and move onto the next acceptance or rejection letter. There’s no sting in the soul that resides there for an exorbitant amount of time, no spate of depression, kiss of death, lull in motivation and life meaning. We are not summoned to sit through a screen show of all our hopes being torn down and feats rising up in the bile of our stomach to ruin our shiny, new leather shoes that smelt of the most marvelous memories of our first big social occasion. That’s real rejection. None of this ‘oh I went for a job and I didn’t have enough experience but I didn’t really want or need it very anyway’ stuff. This is that ‘my kids need to eat and I got fired from my job because the company has make some cuts to counterbalance the effects of a bad season of sales’ defeat. A hopeless situation. The place we fear to tread, and for good reason.
Real rejection crushes us. It lingers, persists in how it hurts our hearts. It’s being told you’re not good enough when you’ve tried so hard, felt so deeply for something. You don’t quite understand why you felt so deeply, so strongly for it, but you did. And now, it is gone. And you’re all alone. Maybe only metaphorically. You could have the soothing words of your best friend, your daddy or you big sister but you feel so very lonely. And you cannot comprehend why you can’t escape that emotion.
You might have made a big error, but you love is so big that you kind of expect another chance. And when the chance becomes but a sparkle, and that sparkle becomes a ball of nothingness, you realise that you love and passion is not enough. It doesn’t even matter about how, why or even if you fucked up anymore. You’re just… you barely exist to that thing you were chasing; that person, that company, that school, that life. It hurts so bad, and yet it is like your tears get sucked into a blender, drunk and digested with barely as much as an aftertaste. You’ve become that ball of nothingness and the only way to become something again is to push it away to a spot you’ll never think about again… But how are you going to find that spot in the first place?
Then there are the times when the rejection isn’t so definitive. Instead it is just a period of ambiguity where you are held back by an invisible hand that is just as willing to pull you forward. You’re left in your own personal purgatory and there’s no indication of how long you are stuck there unless you throw it all away and run. It’s not that easy to run when your shoes are stuck in the same glue that keeps everything together. I’m sort of the problem, sort of the solution. I’m everything and yet I am nothing… Fuck.
Rejection is a concept that most of us tip-top around. The majority of the world’s population adheres to a basic social principle. You marry, or join a union with another person and remain attached throughout our adult life until death do us part. However, the fragmentation and liberating forces have seen rejection become a constant factor. Previously, these social pledges would entail a partial rejection if one were to occur. Mistresses, infidelity and then the extreme complete abandonment come to mind. In the age of liberation, or something along those lines, divorce rates are very high and it is an option that is wiser than a life of infidelity and unhappiness. Therefore the question is whether this makes us happier as a whole or more insecure? The accessibility, particularly in the western world, to divorce is advantageous in countless ways. We are free to explore, free to associate with the partners we desire and free to be the person we want to be. In the same respect, we also live in a world with so many options, so many distractions and fewer ties to a single individual. Maybe this is society’s way of expressing social Darwinism. The most compatible are rarely thrown into a pit of darkness that we call rejection. Those not blessed with such advantages are condemned to a life filled with bitter rejection. But is this really the case? Are we all just fighting the inevitability of dying alone by attaching ourselves to someone until a better option comes along? No, one cannot think in such a manner if one desires avoiding leading a life full of cynicism, isolation and total emptiness.
So we take a risk and buy in. Like any game we face an uncertain future and an unfair playing field. Some receive a ticket to paradise, others a ride to hell and back. However, when there are so many people playing, the chances of small victories are far greater. And you learn to read the way others play, in order to avoid potential betrayal and eventual numbness to the whole venture. It’s a pretty hard game to avoid when sitting out means you might be completely excluded from the supplementaries that come with it. Success, love, sex, money and on an even more base level; shelter, food and life. Avoiding the risk of rejection only amplifies the risk of you experiencing it. What a cruel, cruel little game. (Jigsaw would be licking his lips just thinking about it).
When life is explained like that it sounds similar to monopoly and in a lot of ways it is… minus the opportunity to buy decent properties in major cities, we are long passed such an outlandish idea. However, you can use all the euphemisms and cute metaphors in the world and still not escape the essential truth of the matter. Rejection makes you feel like your whole being is simply not good enough. Such a concept is utterly ridiculous when you’ve got a clear mind, but when you are afflicted by a broken heart and a wounded, dejected soul, you can’t help but think that you are simply not enough and if you don’t shake that feeling quickly, with the aid of a replacement, an association or a slap in the face, you can enter a dangerous space where your entire being begins to alter at the seams. It rarely reaches this stage fortunately, but not many people can avoid the predominant feeling of rejection.
That childhood feeling of being picked last, wandering the schoolyard by yourself and being pushed aside by every important person in your life. It’s an emotion no one is immune to despite our best attempts to cover the signs of vicious defeat. Welcome to reality… (Enter Grimes)