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How I Deal With Rejection While Also Being Sick

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Rejection is something each and every one of us has gone through. This begins in early childhood, sometimes even before we can talk. Rejection may leave you flooded with different emotions. When I am rejected I have this strange reaction to neutralize the feelings. I bury my emotions, play it cool and act like it is no big deal. I am working to find the root of this with my own self-development. Others may react differently to rejection. For some, it can trigger feelings of anger or even stir up physical ailments like nausea and difficulty breathing. Either way, we all have dealt with rejection at some point in our lives, and it is not easy.

Rejection can become even more complicated when you are dealing with a chronic disease or mental illness. I have been dealing with emerging back into reality after a few rough years of treatment that left me bedridden for three years. During this time, the only people I saw were my parents, my doctors and my nurses. I was so sick, I could not drive a car or go to the grocery store, and my hair got so long from being too sick to cut it that I had to hold it up when I went to the bathroom. Luckily, I remember little. When I grew strong enough to get back outside, my social muscles were just as weak as my body was. I had to relearn how to deal with people and how to be social, much like a child.

This vulnerability meant any feeling of rejection would set me off. It stung like a bee. I would send an email and not receive a reply, and it would send me into a tailspin. More recently, I was searching for light work or a volunteer position once a week. I sent out about 40 emails, maybe more, explaining my limitations and being honest with what I could do at the time. Just one of those 40 replied. This can be part of the deal when you’re sick. You are vulnerable, and the rest of the world is caught up in “real” life. Even though it may have not been rejection to them, it felt a whole lot like it to me. People get busy, emails get tossed. But when you’re emotionally fragile, this can be a lot to deal with.

The thing with rejection, though, is that we learn from it. We try, we put ourselves out there and maybe we get shot down nine out of 10 times, but that one time we don’t can be empowering. It would have been easy for me to stay within the comfort of my home and not even try, but I put myself out there, and even though I was rejected, I did eventually keep going. The one place that emailed me back became an amazing fit. I now have a sense of community and a place where I can practice being more social again.

As a writer, there are often times one of my articles is not accepted. Each time this happens, I get less and less of a reaction and know it simply means I need to reword my writing and try again. This rejection helps me to learn to try again and that when I do, I can do better.

Going through rejection and illness is anything but simple. While in such a fragile and vulnerable state, rejection can be triggering and traumatic. Most of us have been judged or criticized time and time again for our health issues, and it is hard to put yourself out there when there is a slight change of being rejected. It can make you want to go right back to your comfort zone and never try again.

Allow yourself to go through those feelings, but then remember to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get back out there. It is not easy, but take it a day at a time. More often than not, we learn from the harder times. Being sick alone is enough in itself. Being out in the world where even a healthy person can struggle can be exhausting, so give yourself some credit. You are doing the best you can given the circumstances, and that is more than enough.

Photo by Finn Hackshaw on Unsplash

Originally published: March 26, 2018
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