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Rejection's Lessons


What does not kill me can only make me stronger.
NIETZSCHE




Gladly, I've been rejected many times.

In love and in the pursuits of the mind. In work and in the search for success. In faith and in my wrestlings with the God.

To be rejected in love is as easy as to be rejected in work. I am either to good or too bad for her that I admire and the work that I aspire. More often than not it's too bad that I never am able to show how good I am before she turns down my offer by nipping love's flower at the bud. It is the same thing in work for rejection comes early like the snobbery of a lady who refuses the drink you sent: your credentials speak for you and they judge you by that as one judges a book by its cover or better, as one judges love's possibility by the face you sport or the money you carry.

Well, at least you know clearly from the lady you are courting or the boss you are sweet-talking that you're out of her league or that you're a weak link for the company; it is not the same with the God. The God's rejection always comes in indirect albeit unnoticeable forms--he speaks in the rejection of love or in its success, in the wealth gained from work and its loss. He tells you his decision or non-decision in thundering storms or in quiet lakes. In other words, he rejects you or accepts you without sending notice. Now you really do not know what's happening. Pray on--as if it'll matter. You are still without a clue as to his answer. And it is this ignorance that makes it possible for us to blame the silent God when we are rejected.

But these points are beside the point. The point is no one really likes to be rejected because as the word portrays, to be rejected is to be deflected against that to which we projected ourselves. That is to say, to be rejected means to encounter a counter-force that sends us back to where we came from--usually alone (again) and lost (again) without a (new) plan. Rejection vulgarly put is the closed door you wished to enter. And usually it's not that you wanted to open the door but couldn't that's difficult; it's the previously open door slammed shut in your face which, among many things, is embarrassing. The completion of rejection's annihilation: when you see someone else far worse than you enter the same door without difficulty wearing a stupid grin on his face waving back at you.

My first experience of love was also my first experience of rejection. And perhaps my first experience of God as well. Still young and brimming with hope and uninitiated in the matters of young hearts, I could not understand why the girl I admired and who admired me as well did not requite when I told her that I liked her. And so I asked that foolish question "Why?"--to which she replied the equally foolish answer that it was not me but her. To translate: it meant that she did not find anything wrong with me, that I was (and still am) smart and funny, cute (but now just cuddly), and everything she had wanted in a boyfriend. Now the caveat was all set. But it was just that once the guy she had admired gives back that admiration, that is, once the guy falls for her, there remains no longer any "challenge" for her and that usually means the end of love's possibility. Well, never mind how stupid that reasoning is--even if it remains to be true for women and truer for me.

But what I remember from that experience, even if she reassured me that the fault did not come from my side but from hers, was my inevitable raising of that reflexive question asked at the aftermath of rejection: "What's wrong with me?" There had to be something wrong as there will surely be in anyone a lack, an imperfection, a tragic flaw, a blind spot, a weakness, a hidden sickness. Was I too nerdy (perhaps) or too gentle (no doubt) or too silent (admittedly) or too boring (hopefully not) for her? And later on, that question changed its form when I learned that she was going out with boys more nerdy than me; that is, I asked what did that guy have that I did not have?

Rejection's lesson is not that you learn to try harder or that there are things that happen only at the right time or that you have to understand that you do not always get what you want. No, these are footnotes to rejection's truth. And what it that truth? That in being re-jected you re-turn to yourself in a changed form--as a rejected bullet bounces off a bullet-proof glass already deformed. In that inglorious return--head bowed, heart broken, pride forgotten--you are able to render yourself to yourself, that is to say, present yourself to yourself even resentfully so that you may be able to reassess yourself retrospectively. Where did I go wrong or what did I fail to do? Am I really what she told me I was or did I come on too strong for her? But all these negative questions--all good questions--can only have worth if they are gathered together in the question that decides whether or not it was a good rejection--the question "How can I be better?"

To be a better lover means to better what already was good not because it was not good enough for her but so that the next lover will be even better as well. To be a better worker means to better your work not because it was not good enough for the boss but because you also one day aspire to be a boss, a boss better than your boss. If rejection robs you of opportunities and possibilities, it also gives you the one thing necessary for success: pride. To be proud at rejection's wake means to begin to be what the successful can no longer be: to be better.

Whenever a lady rejects me I now make sure to thank her and say goodbye properly. Whenever I am turned down for work or when my work is turned down, I smile and thank them even for the opportunity they gave me. Because I know that with every rejection I am little by little being led by the God to where I may finally be accepted. And that with every rejection I am melted and struck by a hammer and molded into something better, something nearer to perfection--like the God we always reject but who also never tires of wanting to be accepted.

This is not merely a matter of faith. This is already a matter of pride. And you see, pride is the only thing I share with my God.


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Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I believe that God hears our prayers and answers them in 3 ways: yes, no, and wait. Yes if He knows that the woman is the best one for you; no if He knows there's someone far better; and wait if the person is not yet the right one for you, or the timing is not yet right. It's up to you to discern, and up to you to decide in the final analysis. That's the gift of free will...

    Your "first love" liked challenges, huh? That's rather queer for a woman because it's usually the men who are like that. "The hunt is better than the kill," right? :P Just have something to share. I usually develop a crush on people I know I won't be good friends with because that way, I won't get to know the guy better and eventually fall in love with him. I feel "safe" that way (=

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  3. Hi, yvaughn. Nice to hear from you after a long while. Happy new year.

    I, for one, do not believe that praying adds or diminishes anything to or from the God. Not that praying is useless; well, yes, praying can be useless in the sense that it's no use to bother the God when it comes to our petty problems and to think as if he will change something if we pray hard enough.

    But what I do believe, with Meister Eckhart, is that the only prayer which can really be a prayer is a prayer of gratitude. Why is gratitude a true prayer? Because a prayer of gratitude is a word of excess; in other words, words that need not be said but are said--even sung. This, I believe, and not so much our worries and problems, is what the God of excess can hear.

    Another prayer I say--that is, whenever I do pray--is a prayer of strength. That is to say, I ask the God that in whatever I do I may be strong. Not that I ask him this in the way that one asks from him that he give me money or that I wake up beautiful tomorrow. I pray that in the trials I face, difficult as they may be, that I may see--and as you say, discern--him hiding and challenging me, as I say in this piece, to become better. And if he does not give this strength I ask, then that in itself is the answer and the challenge. Like all rejections, I learn most in my weakness.

    I agree with you on your point on having a crush from afar. Actually, you put in a great way what I also feel or what I usually do. There is safety in such a distance because there are no "strings attached" and being so, one can exit without difficulty or make success even more glorious. That is why I also never fall in love with a girl friend; and that I have no girl friends (an oxymoron I believe) is beside the point.

    I wrote this because I have recently been rejected again.

    But I thank all those who reject me--without any sarcasm. Because I know that one day, or even after I'm gone, they will envy me.

    Rejection may be bitter but revenge shall always be sweet.

    Nice to hear from you again, yvaughn. see you around.

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  4. i'd been diligently reading your blog over the Christmas break, but I was not commenting for I felt like I had nothing significant to say except "happy new year" (too). hehe (=

    for once, we have different opinions, and i respect yours regarding prayers. as you may probably have noticed from my previous comments, i'm a devoted Christian-Catholic (who belongs to a charismatic community), and a very proud one at that (= i believe in the power of prayer: to be persistent like a child when praying for my petitions and to be very specific so as to verify in the future that the prayer has been answered. i also believe that for my prayer to be complete, it should comprise of ACTS: Acclamation, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication...

    also don't believe in platonic relationships between a guy and a girl, because at one point or another, one is bound to fall since men and women naturally attract each other. just remembered something when i read the part when the girl said that there was nothing wrong with you but with her, i can also recall feeling that way countless times for other reasons: because of my low self-worth. because i still can't fully love myself, i feel like i don't deserve a wondeful man in my life or anyone for that matter (some issues i have yet to resolve)...

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  5. To be sure, I respect your beliefs as well, dear yvaughn.

    But to clarify, I believe that it matters not whether one is devout in one's religion or not when it comes to the act of praying: prayer and the ability to pray are not the results of a strong faith. What I do believe in is that faith is enough. Because faith's responsibility lies on my side; while prayer already (and inevitably) asks the silent God to crossover to my side, that is, to act for me.

    Of course, and you know this already, prayer is not simply wishful thinking or plain asking. But I suspect something fishy whenever I ask for something particular from the God.

    I, unfortunately, have forgotten how it is to pray like a child--that "please bless my family and i ask you to give me these things..." I am neither proud of it nor embarrassed by it. But once everyday, I do pray--in a rather unusual way. I have a motto that I say and offer, about three things I ask. And I do it in the shower. Now, isn't that something to write about?

    Thank you for your thoughts. Actually, I envy you and your faith.

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  6. it just dawned upon me that "devout" is the more apt term to use instead of "devoted." thank you very much for the subtle correction. hehe. it was very much appreciated. i knew it all along: you're more OC than me (=

    actually, there's nothing to envy about my faith. i just had my share of "unpleasant" (to put them mildly) experiences which led me to search a Higher Being who'll keep my sanity intact and offer a twinge of hope to my seemingly hopeless life. a very close friend once asked me if i will still seek God if i didn't experience what i did. i thought about it for a while, and told him that maybe i'll still look for God even if life went well for me because there's this void in my heart that i know only HE can fill (=

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