Rejection: one of those things many of us try to avoid at all costs. It is incredible how much of a stranglehold the fear of experiencing rejection can have on each of us, to the point where we stop reaching for things we really want in our lives and relationships.
What does that leave us with? Not a whole lot of truly pleasurable experiences.
When it comes to dating, the fear of rejection can make or break a person’s love life. For some people, rejection from a stranger might not be a big deal, but for many of us the thought can be emotionally crippling.
The unfortunate thing about those of us who are fearful is that we often miss out on things we want because we do not reach for what we want. This means approaching someone for a date, phone number, conversation or even a kiss can feel like stepping off a cliff into a lake of fire.
Who wants to do that? It is scary and uncomfortable. I get it. I am one of those very people.
A few years ago I bumped right up against this edge. I was in San Francisco working toward my relationship coaching certification and staying in a funky hotel near the Haight-Ashbury district.
A guy who was fairly shy and had these blue eyes combined with a southern accent that just killed me worked the front desk a few of the nights I was there. Since training had me in San Francisco four times throughout the year, I had seen this man a number of times already. We had exchanged some small talk over the series of visits, but things had not gone beyond casual flirtation.
This particular visit was, what I thought, my final one. I had been thinking about that the whole time I was there, then the second-to-last day arrived.
After class, I returned to the hotel and he was at the front desk as usual, but something came over me. Maybe it was the fact that I was near the end of a life-changing program, or maybe because I figured I would never see this blue-eyed, southern-drawl of a man again. Whatever it was, I knew I just needed to go for it.
I went back to my room and spent the next 10 minutes coaching myself into walking back down the two flights of stairs and asking the man out for a drink at the end of his shift. I stepped out of my room and began walking down the hallway toward the first flight of stairs, but then my nerves got the best of me and I scurried back to my room.
I tried to go again, but heard voices coming from downstairs. I quickly turned around again and walked back to my room, waiting for the coast to clear. Finally, I made it down the stairs, poked my head around the corner and “casually” asked the question.
After his shift was over we headed over to a nearby pub. Once we were sitting at a table, with drinks in hand, he turned to me and asked, “Were you really nervous about asking me out?”
I replied that I might have been a bit nervous and asked him why. His reply: “Well, I saw you on the camera pacing back and forth in the hallway.”
I do not remember what else was said that night, but I do remember wanting to climb under the table to die of embarrassment and wondering if rejection would have been easier than being caught in my nervousness.
The moral of this story is that I reached for something I wanted, even though it was terrifying. Not only did I survive it, but now I also have a funny story to share about the hilarity of reaching for something you want, regardless of the fear of rejection.
Niseema Emery is a certified intimacy and relationship coach in Powell River.