Sorry, I couldn’t think of a witty title for this post. Rejection doesn’t lend itself to a cute phrase that invokes a big grin. Do a search on Amazon in their books section on “rejection” and you’ll get over three thousand titles presented to you. A lot of people are feeling it and a lot of people are writing books about it.
Time and time again. We all face rejection in life, I can name a few possibilities here and everyone one of you can name something I’ve missed that you have personally experienced (so don’t feel the need to correct me or add to the list.)
Maybe you weren’t the popular kid in middle (Jr. High) school or High School and you were made fun of. Maybe the love of your life informed you that they no longer wanted to be the love of your life. Perhaps you were fired from your job and the reason given to you was weak at best. Maybe your father left your mother and you to fend for yourselves.
Being rejected for something you’ve done, something you’ve said – as bad as it is, can be corrected. Maybe you can’t take it back but you certainly can make sure you don’t do or say something like that again. Being rejected for who you are – that cuts deep. Real deep. A lesson I should have learned a long time and recently was reminded of (and wrote about it here) is that you can’t not be who you are. Try as you might, you can only be you.
For many of us, the source of rejection and pain has come from the places that should be the most accepting of us, our family and our church. Unfortunately the same family that once said “blood is thicker than water” or “family is everything” may now not be living those words anymore. Likewise the same Church that would gladly recite Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” can at times actually become a burden and make one weary. But it’s not just the Church, it can be our workplace, it can be our neighbors where we live.
Being transgender, you can pretty much expect to encounter rejection at some point, and more than once. Even if you’re NOT transgender you can expect it – it’s just part of life. But being transgender adds additional possibilities for such a thing to cross your path in this life.
I’ve spent part of my life allowing rejection to consume me, and in doing so did everything thing I could to avoid further rejection. Avoiding rejection at all cost comes however with a different price tag – isolation and loneliness. After the hurt of a major rejection my pendulum swung to the other extreme and I tried so hard to avoid being hurt again that I pulled away from people, even my close friends and just buried myself in my work.
I get the sense on occasion that there are those in the transgender community who feel they have a RIGHT to be liked. I hope that’s not you because that right is given to no one. Some people just aren’t very likeable – we all know people like that. They may be someone you encountered at one time and make no effort at all to meet or have contact with them again – maybe they are with a particular religious group going around the neighborhood, and even though you know they saw you pull into your driveway, you don’t answer the door when they knock. You’ve rejected them – you know it and they know it. Or it may be someone closer to you like a co-worker that unfortunately you can’t avoid. They are there next to you in the office, they are there in the room during staff meetings. You can’t avoid them, but you’ll do your best to do just that. Do you think they don’t know you’re rejecting them?
Some people may reject me because I’m transgender, others may reject me because I’m just well…me. If I’m ever to have friends, have community with people that I wish to surround myself with, I’m going to have to be willing to risk rejection. That doesn’t mean I shout to the world that I’m transgender, I don’t even shout to the world that I fix computers. Every conversation has its place and time.
You will never eliminate rejection – tomorrow someone may not like your hair or your shoes. Some people will reject you out of their own ignorance – don’t hate them, feel sorry for them. Rejection will happen, have people around you that you can talk to. If you’re dealing with severe rejection find a professional who can help you through it.
Rejection does not define who you are because other people do not and cannot define who you are (unless you let them – so don’t.) Expect rejection to come your way and learn how to deal with it in a healthy way. Don’t bottle up what you’re feeling, but lashing out at others doesn’t really help either. Work on it, let your friends help, find the help wherever you can – you’re worth it my friend.