Ah, rejection. The sweet, slow burn to the ego that makes you just want to crawl under your covers and die - makes you never want to step up to bat again, finds you swinging your practice bat in the middle of the night when no one's looking, or singing in the shower but certainly not when someone might hear... oh, rejection.
Recently, I applied for a major scholarship. It was suggested to me to apply and I thought, well, why not? What's the worse that could happen?
So I did all the work, which turned out to be a lot more than I originally expected, but I did it - giving it as much as I could before crossing the finish line until the day that I submitted it. I had support from my Alma Mater, Rutgers, and those who wrote me the recommendations, so it was a bonding experience - we were all in this thing together.
Deep down, I truly believed that there was no way I would get selected for such an scholarship. I am still amazed that I am alive. I am still amazed that I am a walking, living, being, that people want to offer me jobs and give me responsibilities, that in 1 week I will celebrate 7 years clean from heroin, that I have a computer and a house and a relationship with my family. I had small goals, like staying clean.
And then I received a very peculiar email, which said: "Congratulations! You have been selected as a finalist and we'd like you to come to New York City for an interview." What a trip. I went shopping with my mother for the perfect outfit (I never go shopping); I wore my little superstitions items for good luck and when the day came, I had a raging headache and a horrible sinus infection but I pulled my big girl panties up and I showed up.
I left that interview completely confused. I had absolutely no idea how it went and suddenly, I cared a lot. If I didn't make it now, I had 6 faces of the people who rejected me. Now, it wasn't just words or numbers on the paper that weren't good enough. It would be me.
Luckily, this particular scholarship tells you almost immediately, as in the next day, which for me was the equivalent of the silver medal at the Olympics: I got put on the "reserve list." It would be another 3 weeks before I'd find out if someone who had received the scholarship was going to decide that they had better things to do and pass it on like an old dirty pair of jeans, to me.
There was a study I read a while ago that said that the most disappointed person at the Olympics is the silver medalist. The Gold, of course, is elated. The bronze medalist is just happy to be there (see photo above, she's more elated than the rest of them). But the silver...the silver almost says: well, you almost did it! The silver medalist deals with the obsessive thoughts about her tiniest mistakes, which took that person just one step away from getting what they most desired: the gold.
Disappointment, especially in oneself, is no psychological joke. I understand completely the desire not to try, in an effort to attempt to control the amount of disappointment that comes into your life. However, I encourage you to be clear that this is what you are doing - so that your decision is a choice, rather than an unconscious mantra keeping you caught up in fear and making the playing field lean so much more unevenly towards those who want to keep you there - and the medals, or scholarships, or jobs, or Presidents - in the hands of those who they can better control.
Not trying is the only sure-fire way to stop yourself from getting what you want. Furthermore, it's a sure-fire way to help those interested in getting that same thing lower their odds by singling you (and all the others who think like you) out. It is a mantra of the disempowered, of those who have internalized that there's no chance for "someone like me" and I am here to tell you that crazier things have happened - and though getting out there and giving it a go doesn't always lead to the thing your ego most wants - it does very often lead to other, even more exciting things, that never would've happen if you'd stayed at home.
As for my scholarship, I still don't know - but luckily I made the decision to challenge all my fear- and ego-based mantras controlling my life seven years ago, so today I am just feeling grateful that I gave it a try and among the fifteen rods I've got in the fire, I've no problem to let it sit for a while 'cause baby, I'm just heating up.