I’m stuck.

You may recall that last week I decided I was going to make some improvements in my life. Well, I’ve been staring down the enormity of this task lately, and I can’t help but picture myself being chased by three giant, Indiana-Jones-style boulders all at once.

The three boulders represent the following three areas of my life: physical (as in exercise, food, body), career (as in my writing career}, and relationships (as in romantic relationships.) I was surprised to find that these three boulders had one thing in common. They were attacking me using the same route: fear of rejection.

I have learned in the past that usually to get to the bottom of a block you have to go back and see what in the past has blocked you. I went through this process with my creativity and it led me to finally start writing my novel. I thought that the same process would work with these other aspects of my life, so I went back and looked. Here’s what I found:

    1. Physical: I remember being one of the last to be picked for sports teams on the playground. (Soooo cliché of me, right?). In little league, I could never hit the ball, so the coach would ask me to purposely get myself hit by the pitcher so that I could then walk to first base and help the team win. Haha! Okay, I can laugh at this now, but at the time it really sucked. It was humiliating and I remember being convinced that I just wasn’t cut out to be good at anything physical. My body was just not my strong suit, so I spent years and years cultivating what I thought was my strong suit: my mind. I was incredibly studious and was always at the top of my class. I overachieved and got all the student of the month awards and plaques, etc. etc. Part of the strategy was for my parents to notice my academic achievements and focus on that, instead of forcing me again another sport and risking more humiliation. It worked. They seemed to be distracted by my academic achievement and never forced me into sports. From then on, in my mental capacity I was never rejected, I was always accepted.
    2. Career: You know how I said that I never tried to advanced my writing career? Well that’s not true. I have. I’ve submitted my work to festivals before, I’ve also earned prizes for my artistic work in the past. But I’ve also been rejected.  I think the big rejection came when I didn’t get into a Creative Writing Masters program in 2009. I haven’t really addressed this in a post. Let’s just say it was one big ol’ fat rejection and I don’t think I was the same after that. Never before had I worked so hard and so long for something and had it flop right down onto my face. So what keeps me from moving forward in this area of my life? You guessed it: fear of rejection.
    3. Relationships: Well, first of all, they always ended a lot earlier than I or the other person expected them to end. When a relationship ends you just can’t help but think that YOU did something wrong. That YOU weren’t good enough and that’s why this wonderful thing you had couldn’t last. That person you cared for left you, so how could that not feel like a big ol’ rejection? If it’s happened more than once, how then can you not fear moving forward with another relationship, if your experience so far has been you always feeling rejected in the end?  Who wants more of that, seriously? We all want a relationship to be a fun and fulfilling ride, we don’t want it to crash and burn. So when the ride repeatedly does crash and burn, can you blame a guy for not wanting to get back on that on ramp, where all the love crashes always happen? People who’ve found the right guy or gal on the second or first try don’t seem to understand this. They say, well why don’t you just hop back in that ride? It’s just date, what’s the harm in that? Just have fun! I’m sorry to say this, friend, but it isn’t that easy. It’s not just a “hop” back on a ride.  It’s hopping back on a ride that during the last 5 times you rode it broke down on you and put you straight in front of oncoming traffic. You left all five crashes bruised and broken and spent years recovering.  You would never expect a survivor of 5 car crashes to easily get back in a car and drive leisurely away. In fact, you wouldn’t be surprised if the person decided to never want to ride a car ever again!

In conclusion, believing that I could never be a good enough athlete is what kept me away from ever enjoying any physical activity. Believing that I was not talented enough to have a career as a writer is what kept me from applying to grants or to writing contests after the MA fiasco. Finally, believing I am not good enough for a potential partner is what keeps me from starting a new relationship.

Say it with me now, I have a FEAR. OF. REJECTION.

I’m not quite over this fear, but a recent e-mail from my sister tells me that maybe an answer lies in this post from zen habits aptly titled “you’re already perfect.”  Read it and then come back to me…

You done reading? Okay.

The post makes the assertion that we are already perfect as we are. This is a hard thing for us to accept, I think. It is for me. But maybe that’s just the kryptonite we need to weaken SuperRejection. What is the polar opposite of complete rejection anyway, other than full acceptance?

Maybe in order to get over our fear of rejection, we have to be the very first one’s to finally accept ourselves not only as we are–but to say that we are perfect as we are.  Maybe I got it wrong. I’ve been writing up this list of things that need to be fixed and maybe, the truth is, nothing is actually broken.  I’ve been waiting for someone else, out there in the world, to give me a break, to give me the chance to prove to them that I am good enough. But maybe what I really need to do is be the first one to give myself the chance to prove that I am already good enough. The very first person that needs to fully accept me is me.

In fact, maybe we are the only person we ever need to prove anything to. After all, how can rejection every damage us if we hold ourselves so dear? If we are perfect, and a relationships ends, we know not to blame ourselves. If we are perfect, and the literary magazine won’t publish our work, then we know it isn’t us. If we are already perfect, and we miss hitting the ball with the bat, we know it isn’t because we will never be a good athlete. We know it’s because we haven’t given ourself the chance to grow up and finally become one.

much love,


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31 comments on “Rejection.

  1. Agatha82 says:

    I understand why you feel the way you do. I am my worst enemy/critic. I am quite nasty to myself at times. If anyone else had uttered all the nasty things I’ve said about my own novel and my own writing, I would’ve ended up in a little corner crying, but somehow, it was okay to insult myself as badly as I have been doing lately. The danger with the “I’m already perfect” thing is that it can also lead to smugness. Nobody is perfect and if anyone really starts to believe that, then, we will never learn because we’ll think us already perfect. However, I know that is not what she meant by her post. I agree with you, we ourselves have to be the first ones to give ourselves a break because if we don’t, who will then?

    • Ollin says:

      Oh, the person who writes that blog is a man. My sister just emailed me a link to his blog. But yes, I don’t think he really meant that. I think he means more to be at peace with ourselves as we are now–it’s kind a like we are exactly at the point in our life that we need to be. If we refuse ourselves at this moment, then we might block our growth, a growth that needs to happen with us at the exact place we are at this moment. I don’t know if that makes sense, lol. But I think that’s how I interpreted it.

  2. Cities of the Mind says:

    Successful people are rejected more, not less, than unsuccessful people. Any time you try to be something more than you are, you are bound to stumble. Thing is to keep trying.

    • Ollin says:

      Yup, that’s true. Funny, I just saw the oprah interview and Jk Rowling was talking about how failure, or hitting rock bottom, was a solid foundation for her to create her future success. Pretty inspiring stuff. Makes me feel a little relieved.

  3. Wow! The above three comments are great! I shall not compete but concur! Great answers, guys. I will add that God didn’t make any bad products. You are unique and God has a plan for you and a special life partner. Wait and see.

    • Ollin says:

      I love you guys! You all just rushed in and made me feel a whole lot better! 🙂 Thank you for this, I hope you are right Carol. 🙂

  4. aloysa says:

    The above comments said it all. I would only add that fear of rejection just proves that we are human. We all live in constant fear of rejection (well, more or less). It is normal. Don’t dwell on it.

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks aloysa, I will try not to dwell on it. You are right, it is pretty much normal, as long as we don’t let it completely paralyze us.

  5. Ollin says:

    Thank you for all of those wonderful quotes! 🙂

  6. Great post Ollin! And Leo’s post? Well, he kinda makes me feel like I should give up writing… Just kidding. 🙂
    There is one thing that I have finally learned, on top of what Leo writes about that has helped me immensely with fear of rejection.
    When I look back on my past failed relationships, I see how each one, long and short taught me things that I truly needed to know if I am ever to find that soul-mate that I dream of.
    I almost married a man who was so wrong for me on every level that I shudder when I think of what would have happened had I stayed.
    When I realized that I had made a major mistake I asked myself how it was that I ended up there and the answer was that I still suffered from low self-esteem and hadn’t really believed in myself enough to know that I could do better.
    The result of that inquiry was 3 years of personal work that has lead me to become a very happy person. I will never have to make that mistake again.
    So, you see. As painful as that relationship and breakup was, I am incredibly grateful for it.
    The same goes for every other failure I have experienced, and any that I will in the future. Now, I am not as fearful as I once was. I’m learning. And… I am perfect in this moment. :p
    So, cut yourself some slack and know that everything that may go wrong is just a signpost to how to make things right.

    • Ollin says:

      Yes, I have heard about that. To look at each relationship as something that taught you. I was thinking about that the other day, and I did realize that each person taught me about myself and what it is I was really looking for in a partner. They taught me my limits, and how far I was willing to go, and what I always expected from the other person but never got. Now I know what is essential for my next partner and what I would want him to be for me.

      I am glad that you are happy! I can accept myself now, but I find it hard to see myself as perfect as I am. Which I guess is not FULL acceptance. But I’m working on it.

      “So, cut yourself some slack and know that everything that may go wrong is just a signpost to how to make things right.”

      Thank you for this Jenny. It made me feel a whole lot better :).

  7. jannatwrites says:

    I have to say, your description of the ‘physical’ boulder made me think of me all through school. You name the sport, I sucked at it – and got made fun of for it. I also found my safe place in being the studious one.

    I also tend to take rejection hard, but I’m still working on growing thicker skin. When I was younger (early twenties) I took criticism very personally – especially with my writing. Now, if someone can point out areas for improvement, I’m grateful. I’d still rather be perfect, though 🙂 (kidding)

    Hang in there. Try not to dwell too much on the relationships; as you work on the other two ‘boulders’ I think that one will fall into place. Just shining the light on the fear of rejection is the first step to conquering it…good luck!

  8. Sounds about right…rejected? Dive right back in and try it anyway.

    I can’t say much about the first two, But about relationships – I know that you have to go into each relationship as if it were your first. Letting your past relationships influence the future or present relationship is unfair to that person. But I’m not an expert at that, I’m in my first and only relationship where I decided to be brutally honest from day 1. It’s hard but it has made me really happy. I almost follow Gandhi’s philosophy of “Truth” in this one aspect.

    Here are a few things that can help or motivate you

    1. Book – Chicken Soup for the Writers soul.
    2. Audio Book – Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. – Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
    3. Audio Book – Brian Tracy-The Science Of Self Confidence
    4. Audio Book – Gary Chapman -The Five Love Languages
    I also liked Robin Sharma’s “Greatness Guide” book and Audio

    Audio book is a recent activity that I took up. You can easily start a session when you are doing something routine like – Walking, waiting for a train or driving your car.

    BTW do you realize that you are a great source of inspiration for wannabe writers like me. You are living our dream of writing a novel.

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you Keshav!

      I’ll definitely have to check out those audio tapes. Thanks for the recommendations, never heard of these people, but hey I love trying everything I can get.

      Well thank you Keshav, yes apparently I have become an inspiration without intending to, lol. I really just try to share the struggles that I have gone through and what has helped to overcome them. I was able to get past the “writing my novel and being creative” boulder. So I do have faith that in time, I’ll be able to crush the “career” “physical” and “relationship” boulder as well. Actual the fact that I was able to get over my writer’s block has given me the guts to even try to address these issues. I think before I would have imagined these three areas to be hopeless. So I am improving.

      That dream’s not so hard to achieve Keshav. That being said, I have a book for YOU. I don’t know if they have it in audio form, but I’m pretty sure they do.

      “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. Read it, do the exercises and come back to me. I bet you anything you will be writing that book, and you may not have to quit your day job to do it.

  9. T.S. Bazelli says:

    Sometimes I look back from where I am now, and I think… what if at I wasn’t rejected? What if I got that job? And then I think… no… I’d rather have been rejected. I’d have been unhappy at that workplace. What if I ended up with that boyfriend? Mmm, yeah it was devastating that things didn’t work out, but in the end, I was free to finally find someone worth spending a life with.

    I have complete faith that if you keep working towards your goals, and keep learning from each one, then you will succeed – in writing, in love, in life. 🙂

    • Ollin says:

      truer wisdom were never spoken, T.S. Sounds like I got to re-examine those rejections and think about whether I would have wanted those relationships/opportunities to have happened. I wonder if they would have lasted much longer before I rejected THEM, lol. You make a very good point there.

      Thank you for the encouragement T.S. 🙂

  10. I think I became my happiest and most comfortable with myself the second I started accepting that, not only is having limitations okay, but so is admitting to others that you have limitations (or are paranoid you do—indeed, they may be false perceptions!). Nodding and pretending that I had all the answers and capabilities I needed for any given situation only did lead to rejection or a feeling that I was playing a role rather than living one. Acknowledging when I don’t know something only leads to someone helping me acquire that knowledge, or motivating me all the more to work harder to find it on my own now that I’ve been truthful with myself. Ironically, it also has the effect of making me feel that much more capable and confident, as I now feel sorry for others who feel they have so much to prove and are untrue to themselves in the process. YOU, however, are not someone I pity. You seem to have a tremendous amount to give, and you have the perspective and heart it takes to ride out the lows without getting too down on yourself, only seizing those moments to rebuild yourself stronger and succeed. Cheers, Ollin!

    • Ollin says:

      Aww, monkey that was sooo sweet! Thank you for making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, lol.

      Hmm, I never thought of it that way. Accepting your limitations being a point of strength and confidence, rather than the other way around. I’m going to have to try that. I still feel sort of like a loser in these three areas, but I am working on it! 🙂


  11. Liza Kane says:

    Wow. It’s almost like my year, except for the relationship part (just celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary to my best friend ^_^). My transformation involved balancing my physical and writing priorities.
    At least you’re uncovering the root cause behind these things, and are making plans to achieve your goals, slowly but surely. Conquering mindset is definitely a HUGE step along the way.
    If you still need help with the fitness side of things I can share a few links that have been helpful to me…

    • Ollin says:

      Congrats on your wedding anniversary! How did you manage to find the right guy, or the right guy for you? Now that’s what I need a link to, lol. Haha. Thanks for offering your help! 🙂

  12. […] MIP {Man In Progress}. After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life {my physical well-being, my writing career, and my relationships}. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order […]

  13. […] {Man In Progress}. After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life {my physical well-being, my writing career, and my romantic relationships}. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to […]

  14. […] {Man In Progress}. After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life {my physical well-being, my writing career, and my romantic relationships}. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to […]

  15. JB Hill says:

    I’m a little late to this…. but it’s only because I’ve been holed up from the world working like a dog, and neglecting my own craft.

    When I was your age, and that feels like an awfully long time ago, I was very selfish and self absorbed compared to my perception of you through what you’ve written. I certainly had previous failures that would sometimes haunt me late at night until I shook my head fiercely enough the torturous memories would cease (accompanied by eyerolls at the fact that some of that nonsense happened more than 20 years ago) and I would finally convince myself that none of it mattered. But it did.

    Every day that I face the failures I’ve endured, I’m wiser for it. In my house we call it, “Turing lemons into lemonade”…. if you are forbidden to see things as negative and are forced to find the positive… can you? You seem like the type that can.

    I hope you keep finding the courage and inspiration to continue to write (content aside) and don’t let “the real world” interfere….

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you JB! It’s nice to know that the failures and the rejections will make me a lot wiser one day, and that I may endure after all. 🙂 Thank you for the thoughtful post.

  16. […] {Man In Progress}. After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life {my physical well-being, my writing career, and my romantic relationships}. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to […]

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