With rejection, comes liberation.
I’d like to make an educated guess that the reason most people don’t do something is because they are worried they will get rejected. On top of that, most people won’t even admit that this is the reason why. Think of how many guys and girls are out there who are single and ready to mingle but scared to make an approach. Also, in this society, we are so pressured to be liked. So much so that people change their personality all the time. I’m not saying this is inherently bad, but I don’t find it to be good either.
Our egos attempt to protect us from being hurt. This was great at some point in time, but as society has grown more social and civil, what we fear is mostly made up of false assumptions on what we think will happen. Girls would ask guys out just as often as guys do if it wasn’t the fear of rejection, toppled by the customary tradition that the men make the first move.
But this article is about far more than just getting over the fear of rejections. It’s quite the opposite actually. It’s why rejection is truly an important part of our lives.
Recently I was listening to a podcast that Tim Ferriss had with Reid Hoffman who has been studying start-ups. From his work, he has compiled 10 commandments on start-ups, I won’t be talking about them all here but the first commandment was getting used to hearing NO. Not only that, it explained in detail that if you weren’t hearing no from the investors side, then you probably weren’t onto anything at all, in terms of starting a unique and profitable business. Also that it is totally normal to be borderline laughed out of the room from your actual ideas.
Getting used to rejection is something I learned a lot about in sales. I almost enjoyed it at one point. I’d laugh over the phone at the rejections, we’d all talk about who said what in the break room or in between calls. It was a little harder hearing no to your face when you walked into a business or even in the middle of an appointment. You just felt a little more vulnerable, but the reality in it wasn’t that these people hated you, or wanted to make you feel bad, they just didn’t understand you well, or, most likely, weren’t even worth your time in the first place. You have to at least go out on a few dates before you know if you like somebody. Doing this is certainly one way to build thick skin too. But there is a deeper meaning in all of this.
“Adversity makes men, prosperity makes monsters.” – Victor Hugo
Seth Godin’s recent post even said something similar. He said changing something, even for the better, will make people uncomfortable. Changing anything causes discomfort.
But what’s the flip side to this coin? Instead of US being rejected, what are WE rejecting ourselves? Mark Manson has a beautiful chapter in his book The Subtle Art about the rejection of life’s alternatives. One of the hardest things to do when you’re young is resist the temptation of going out and partying with your friends, even on the weekdays. You don’t want to miss out! DO YOU?
Last night I actually stayed in despite the pleading of my girlfriend to go have a drink with her and her friends. I really wanted to, but I knew I’d regret it. So I stayed home and played video games and relaxed. Nothing special, I know. But it gave me a huge start on the day and I feel great. Great enough to write this, which is a win-win in my book.
Although this is a small event, there is much more going on. Whether you make a decision to do or not do, you are without a doubt rejecting some alternative.
Through accepting rejection, you will find liberation. Another side of the the rejection lexicon is it’s polar opposite.
If we don’t reject a vast majority of all the things we can do with our lives, we basically stand for nothing. If you stand for nothing, you’ll probably wind up pretty unhappy, your life will be meaningless.
Think of it this way. You find a potential spouse, but you know they aren’t perfect, but neither are you. But after a while you both say to yourselves that you’re going to make it work no matter what. You’re fully committing to it. Of course you can go out and find another person, and keep up the “new relationship” high over and over again. But the day you say to yourself, I’m going to commit to this, you will feel a sense of relief inside you. A liberating feeling that only comes to those who reject the alternatives.
There is joy in commitment, especially when in comes to your craft. I had to leave the culinary industry for 2 years to realize how much I missed sweating and bleeding in a kitchen and making beautiful and delicious food. You create meaning and appreciation when you commit. It’s no secret. You cannot achieve those decades of investment without the rejection of alternatives.
When you reject the alternatives, it all becomes a little simpler. Yes, maybe you’re wasting your time. But you’ll know when that day comes. The important part is simplicity. As Bruce Lee once said “… the height of cultivation runs to simplicity.” With simplicity, comes freedom. Freedom from the noise of the bullshit you might think you need, but don’t.
I see people every day, striving for some sense of freedom, but if they only knew that it was all right in front of them all along, they would be more grateful for the things that already have. This goes along the lines of things like enjoying the journey. Life is always a journey. A journey towards death. And when we get the point where death is a mere toe’s length, the only thing you will have is the journey, the memories, and the only way to enjoy the journey is to be in the moment. Commit to the moment, but also have a purpose, an ikigai. Pursue it, for it is your duty.
…forever a student.