When you decide to actively pursue dating, it feels all starry-eyed and heart emojis. Surely all your friends have just been waiting to set you up with their cute single friends and men will just immediately fall for you. Optimism abounds! The possibilities are endless!
For me personally, my decision to pursue dating involved an increase in romantic comedy movies. I watched Hitch for the speed dating scene, actual practical research which just opened the flood gates. Before I knew it, I was getting teary-eyed over the old couples from When Harry Met Sally and thinking about getting bouquets of sharpened pencils.
For some reason, I forgot about all the rejection involved in putting yourself out there. I forgot about the insecurity, the worrying, and the giving of myself only to get nothing in return. It's in all the romantic comedies that I've been watching, but I forget about it by the time we get to the happy ending. I've given my number to at least 4 different men this month and none have called. I've been asked on date by a different guy, but he never asked specifically or made any plans. I've met guys (more than I have in months or maybe even years) and possibly I misread every interaction, but no one is interested in a second meeting.
Obviously, most of this is indeed a numbers game. I haven't met any men in forever, so obviously I haven't been rejected by men in forever. Now I'm purposely seeking out new people and holy cow, do I feel the rejection! And as much as I want to brush it off, trust that the end is worth the means, rejection hurts! Someone saying no, I'm not interested turns me into someone that I don't recognize. I'm a generally confident and happy person, but lately I doubt every decision I make. Was it the clothes I wore? Did I talk too much? Is it because I work at a church and he thinks I'm no fun? Am I too old/fat/ugly/broken/bossy/obnoxious/set in my ways/far away/_________ (fill in the blank with a million other worries)?
And then - as though dwelling on my deficiencies in the dating world isn't enough - I start to feel like I'm failing at everything else in life. If I let myself, I could be convinced that not only will I be alone forever, but I'm also bad at my job, a bad friend, and a generally terrible person.
Who is this person?! In some ways, I feel like I've transformed into this girl...
Gosh, I wish I could go back! (I mean not really, but in this picture I had yet to discover the pain and terror of eyebrow waxes... There are some benefits to that!) I felt so insecure then - almost all the time. I was still new to Marietta, self-conscious about how I looked and nervous around boys. And these days, when I struggle with rejection, that's how I feel - self-conscious and nervous. It makes me want to call off everything and retreat, embarrassed that I made such a big deal out of it in the first place.
But I'm not going to. Instead, I somehow have to figure out how to fight back when I'm feeling weak and defeated. I need to let disappointment and impatience roll off my back instead of settling in for days and affecting my mood and my outlook.
And really, I guess that's what it really all comes down to - impatience. I like instant gratification (I mean, who doesn't?) so of course I want to decide to start dating again and then immediately to meet the perfect guy. But of course, that's not the way it works and I'm reminded constantly that God works while I wait, that waiting time is not wasted time.
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. @JennaKutcher
So here's my game plan for handling this sudden onslaught of rejection:
- Acknowledge that it sucks. At least for a short period of time. (It won't do me any good to try and pretend that everything's fine when it's not. Sometimes rejection hurts my feelings, I'm not a robot.)
- Before anyone else, spend time talking to Jesus about it.
- Decide to move on. After spending time with my feelings and time with Jesus, there's no reason to dwell on the rejection. There are too many other exciting opportunities around to let myself get bogged down.
That's it - that's my strategy. How do you deal with rejection?