Why we fear rejection and how it benefits us

No. Just a single word can cause devastation, failure, unworthiness and, most of all, rejection. The person you ask to prom may decline your invitation. Your teacher may refuse to round your semester grade. Rejection may occur anytime. A 2012 study from the American Psychological Association says that high school students are significantly more affected by social rejection. That being said, students need to learn how to accept repudiation. Though we are young and may feel as if any misstep will have a significant impact upon our lives, we need to realize the necessity of experiencing failure, rejection and defeat.

When our relationship falls apart, we feel abandoned. When we receive rejection letters from our dream colleges, we feel unworthy. We feel devastated because, as humans, we strive to be accepted and wanted. It’s comforting and encouraging to know that we are important parts that work harmoniously to make the world a happy place. This comforting thought blinds us to the fact that the world is not a perfect place. We can’t get everything.

There seems to be a misguided belief here that it is unacceptable to blurt out the wrong answer in class or unthinkable to post a mediocre Facebook status, because we will be judged and therefore rejected by our peers. In reality, we’re in school to make mistakes; these mistakes can prove to be greater life lessons in the long run. Take some risks, don’t live to please others and get out of the “comfort zone”.

Spending long periods of time depressed may lead to anxiety, insomnia, depression, and health ailments, but those consequences are simply a manifestation of our concepts of dealing with the problem. We tend to drown in self-criticism or sink into a pool of shame. Our pain is intensified not only when we feel hurt by others but also we feel as if it’s wrong to have these feelings. We are afraid of disappointment, but disappointment is a normal sign in the healing process. It reminds us that we are human. If we pay attention to our thoughts and determine to work with them, recovering from rejection will not be as daunting as we thought.

Sorrow from failed attempts lead to understanding. From these experiences, we can identify the reason why we were rejected, better understand it and prevent it from recurring in the future. It’s fine to feel sad because after weeks, months and years, we’ll emerge as better people.

By Phillip Leung, Opinion editor
Photo courtesy of Christ Fellowship