Its not me, its you: a losers guide to dealing with rejection

Hearing no is hard to take, be it after a date, at work, or on social media. So how do you cope?

You never forget your first no, do you? It seems like only yesterday that I was standing red-faced in the wendy house, being told I couldnt play because I was a boy. The girls didnt want me messing up their toy kitchen and the boys certainly didnt want me anywhere near their football game, so I dried my disappointed tears and turned to a friend whod never tell me no; I picked up a book. Thats one relationship Ive never regretted.

Advances in technology, and the urge to express ourselves as loudly as possible, mean rejection has never been so easy to dole out. Swiping left on Tinder, blocking on Twitter, marching to the polling booth: a firm no is never far away, but the bitter sting never fails to shock. Weve witnessed an unusually high level of public rejection over the last few turbulent weeks, from politicians discovering their posses were lacking compadres and feeling their ambition turn to ash in their mouths, to the much-maligned EU, sadly opening its Dear John letter from 52% of the UK, all calls going straight to voicemail.

Rejection can teach you a lot about yourself and those around you. No may never be music to your ears, but you can learn to take it with dignity. Or, at the very least, store up ample fuel for your revenge.

By your colleagues

Its character-building stuff, having an office nemesis. Or so I told myself as Janet, a malicious, steely office manager, unleashed a year of terror upon me. What had I done to Janet? It didnt matter. I used the wrong mug. I moved a meeting. I left a Post-it on her desk. Janet wasnt happy, and she had backup ideas fell flat in meetings, office drinks happened without me. Look, mate, theyd say, you need to sort it out with Janet.

Workplace disputes can be harrowing. Just ask anyone who went near a political party leadership contest in the last month or so. If you face bitter hatred with blind positivity, your detractors will get bored. I smiled a lot, was extra-polite and gave Janet no possible reason to dislike me, eventually winning her round by bringing in cake and praying shed find a new arch-rival soon. She did, of course. They always do. And all it cost me was time and lost Tupperware. Janet sent a memo round on my behalf, demanding its return.

By your partner

Its not you, its me doesnt help, does it? Breakups are the hardest rejection to take of all, because theyre not about getting turned down for something you wanted; theyre the removal of something you actually had. Ive had my share of these, with front-row seats to both sides of the story, and I quickly realised that wishing things would go back to how they were is pointless. Its evolve or be crushed. If I couldnt be their lover, Id be the best ex they ever had. No heartbroken phone calls in the night, no forlorn texting, no shirtless pics or flaunting my new love on social media, a total dearth of vaguebooking, just the biggest gift of all: invisibility. I stayed out of their way, didnt get in touch, became a ghost. Remembering me fondly thanks to my disappearing act, they almost always get back in touch eventually. Id moved on by then, of course. Zing!

By friends

It has happened to us all: just casually scrolling through baby pictures and misguided political rants on Facebook, only to see all your friends are tagging themselves at a party you dont seem to have in your calendar. Nothing feeds FOMO (fear of missing out) like a good old NFI (not fucking invited) even more so when technology shoves these miserable acronyms right in your face, like salt into your scars. Are you that awful? Is it about the time you were sick all down yourself during dinner?

Do you actually want to be there, or is it the principle, because nobody cares about principles other than their own, Im afraid. Remind them what amazing company you are by tagging hundreds of old photos of debauched parties past. Wait by the phone; therell be a text any minute now.

By children

We like to claim in public that we dont play favourites when it comes to people (or pets), but lets face it, thats nonsense. And what about when youre the one playing second fiddle? I have two godsons whom I adore, and while one of them likes me back just as much, I cant help but notice, on Sunday visits, the other gravitates more toward his godmother. She brings better sweets, she laughs more. Obviously, this smarts like hell, but I dont let it show I just go off to the kitchen to wring out a dishcloth.

If theres one thing Ive learned, watching my cousins seethe with envy as I became the favourite grandchild of not one but both my grandmothers, its that you have to ride it out. Idols will fall; they cant stay perfect for ever. They mess up and, when they do, youll be waiting. At least thats what my cousins told themselves.

On a dating app

Why dont they love me? Id cry when I was single, throwing myself on to a fainting couch whenever someone Id contacted didnt reciprocate. Swiping left, ghosting, firing back messages with a curt ugh no dating has never been so brutal. My takeaway from these rejections was always a) there was something about my profile that needed attention; and b) you cannot make someone want you. This knowledge alone was enough to encourage me. When I did the rejecting hey, it happened, OK? Id get the odd aggressive comeback telling me I was ugly or stupid, or they were too good for me anyway. And you know what? Id always immediately change my mind and agree to meet them. Except I didnt, because nobody would ever do that. Just putting it out there.

On social media

Ive never understood those who actively seek to be blocked by someone on Twitter, believing that social media is a battle to be won, and antagonising or being wilfully dim until people cant take it any more is the prize. #BlockedAndProud, they say, when someones finally had enough of arguing about Brexit. Why? There are lots of reasons someone wont want to see you on their Twitter timeline, but to gloat about it says more about you. When I notice Im blocked, its like a mirror appears out of the darkness, forcing me to look and ask myself why that might be. Its almost always a very unflattering reflection, and you dont even have to care why, obviously, but a little self-awareness never did anyone any harm. Either Im a moron, or they are, but theres definitely a loser in there somewhere.

To a marriage proposal

My friend had everything sorted: an engagement ring, New York in winter, champagne on ice the only thing missing was a Yes. As he finally got up off one arthritic knee to face an even greater pain, he thought his life was over, but a no to marriage didnt mean a no to him. Its just that holy matrimony isnt for everyone. You see a ring as a sign of commitment; they look at it like prison bars, and 30 years of someone ordering you about and moaning you drink too much. You dont need a ring on your finger to be together for ever, I told him. And think of the money youve saved weddings are expensive! He started to say something about flights to New York, a five-star hotel and his ruined credit card limit, but my sympathetic well had run dry by then. Anyway, theyre married now to other people. The point still stands: a no can lead to happiness.

For a new job

I eventually gave up wondering why I didnt get jobs, especially when the feedback was always how brilliant and perfect for the role I was. You were a very strong candidate, theyd say. Youd be a great addition to the team. Um, OK. So wheres my desk? If youre honest with yourself, you can work out what wasnt right. Managers usually want to hire someone just like themselves, or as near as they can get. Plus, many interviewers already have a candidate in mind an internal one, usually so sometimes it really is beyond your control. Sure, you fail more if you try more, but at least youre trying. I used to tell myself: They werent ready for you. Either that, or Id resolve to launch a rival company and buy them out. It may take a while.

By the public

The nearest I got to testing out my public image was submitting my mugshot to be rated for attractiveness on Hot Or Not?, back when the internet was still in its training pants (average score of 8.5, in case youre interested). But whether youre an MP or a Big Brother contestant, having the entire population turn against you is no fun.

Unless, of course, you use it your advantage. Sure, theyve compared you to Satan and created memes where a giant cat rips off your head and spits a fireball down your neck, but we live in a post-fact world nobody really remembers anything any more and whos the one getting the attention? Them or you? Its you! Use it! Remember, the public may be backing away from you and clutching cloves of garlic right now, but youre only ever about two gossip mag interviews away from redemption, not to mention gay icon status. Rejection is an express lane to underdog status, and you know how much everyone loves one of those.

The Guyliner blogs at <a href=”https://theguyliner.com/” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>theguyliner.com

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jul/23/guide-dealing-with-rejection-guyliner

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