Nobody likes rejection. There is a reason for the phrase, “The sting of rejection.” No matter what form it takes, or how insignificant it may be, rejection hurts. At least initially. Sometimes it takes a moment of introspection to get over it and realize it didn’t matter in the first place. Sometimes it affects a person for a lifetime.
While I’ve known for… Well most of my life that rejection sucks, it is a lesson that was brought home for me recently. I was looking through Facebook for a picture I wanted to show someone. I was having a hard time locating it in my feed although it seemed like it had been posted not too long ago. I opted to go right to the source and searched my friend list instead. It was at that moment I realized I had been unfriended. It stung. I was a little baffled. What could I have done to have caused this? Then I stopped myself, realizing I was stressing over Facebook. Furthermore, I was offended that someone I have virtually no real life connection with had unfriended me. So why was I upset?
Simple. Someone had decided that I was not worthy of being included. Is it a bit dramatic? Perhaps. Did I recover once I thought it through and knew I had friended that person out of a sense of obligation rather than actual friendship? Yes. Did I feel dumb for having been upset at all? Absolutely. It was then that I started to ponder rejection and decided to let myself off the hook for my initial gut reaction.
It is human nature (though not the good part of human nature) that seeks to exclude others. By excluding others it gives our selfish side a sense of belonging and inclusivity. A reassurance that we matter and others… Not so much. These cliques and habits form early, starting on the school playground. We learn that if we are not included than we are excluded and that is, well, awful.
Sadly though, we don’t ever move past this fully. There will always be people who seek to exclude others, to flaunt it over them. It would be nice if it doesn’t happen in the adult world but it still occurs. If it didn’t we wouldn’t have racism, sexism, agism, or anything other isms to worry about. There wouldn’t need to be a reason to fight for gay rights. Or to fight over religion. If everyone truly felt comfortable and secure in themselves, no one would feel the need to push their thoughts and beliefs on others and ostracize those unlike themselves.
Maybe I’ve made a pretty huge leap from the sting of being unfriended and thereby rejected on Facebook to religious wars and discrimination but I suspect, at the end of the day, it’s all the same. Someone out there is walking around with their feelings hurt because they didn’t fit in with a group of people. Or someone is out there feeling superior because they have all these people on their side so they think they are better. If everyone could just remember that it sucks being left out, that it is ok to be different, and that just because someone rubs us the wrong way doesn’t make them any less important than ourselves, this world would be a much better place.