The Fear of Rejection

In the spirit of remaining transparent and vulnerable, I thought I would take a huge leap out of my comfort zone, and share with you something I’ve just discovered, or finally realized, about my tender open raw heart self.

I have an enormous fear of rejection.

Not jut normal fear, like public speaking or not being invited to the best party ever, but all-consuming fear that has found its way into the tiny crevices of my subconscious and now permeates much of my thinking and decision making. I had no idea. Well, I probably had some idea (it really does feel pretty bad not to be invited to great parties), but I never acknowledged it to the point that I gave it any real attention. Just this week, however, it’s become the star of its own little show, which is probably a very good thing.

I fear rejection to the point that I hold my affection, attention, emotion, wants, needs, desires, hopes and dreams back from my own husbandOh yes, this has all the makings for Wife Of The Year. I’ve noticed that I am so afraid that I’m not a perfect wife (beautiful, thin, successful, perky, happy, sexy…) or that I don’t keep the house looking amazingly clean and running seamlessly 100% of the time (spotless, shiny, quiet, organized…), heck, even 50% of the time (that would give me an “F”, right?), that I hold back from being my real, true, authentic and uninhibited self. I don’t like him to really know how much I miss him when he’s gone traveling on business, or to really know that I’m dying to spend some time alone with him, just to connect emotionally, so I hold my excitement back, or don’t ask him for the time I need, on purpose. Sometimes, I don’t like for him to see my aging, sagging body because I’m afraid he won’t like what he sees, so I hide it from him.

It goes beyond my marriage, too. There are days when I’m so afraid of being rejected, I sometimes don’t ask friends to meet for lunch, or go to a movie, because what if they say no? At times I take it so personally, it’s as if they’re rejecting me and not legitimately busy that day. And when I’m interested in a new business or career venture, there have been times when I’ve talked myself out of it before it even started, because I’m so afraid I’m not going to live up to someone else’s expectations, even before I know what those expectations are. I don’t tell friends or family what some of my goals or dreams are, because what if they think my dreams are stupid? What if they’re right and they are all stupid?

Don’t get me wrong, I have days where my jeans fit great, the humidity is low and my hair isn’t completely 80’s, I’ve had enough sleep to make me insanely witty (or enough wine to make me think that I am) and I feel confident. But I have a LOT of days where that is not the case, where my vulnerability is palpable and my skin is thin. Underneath all the fear is an even deeper issue of self worth. I know this, and I know that so many of us wrestle with it. That doesn’t mean I always know what to do with it.

I’m thankful for my recent insight into this very imperfect side of myself, because we can’t address something we’re not aware of, and I intend to make this something that I work on improving. Not just for myself, but more importantly, because I’m a role model to my young daughter, and my heart breaks to think that she might ever feel like this. I can do better. I owe it to her to do better.

Don’t leave me hanging, ladies, I know I can’t be alone in sometimes feeling like this (or guys as well, if there are any men reading this). Does anyone else struggle with a huge fear of rejection? Have you learned to somewhat overcome it? Please feel free to share your comments here, or email me at jessicabarretttn@gmail.com.

7 thoughts on “The Fear of Rejection

  1. PS In answer to the second part of your question, I have made a lot of progress in not being paralyzed by my fear of rejection. It’s still there. But I recognize it and remind myself that I often see/anticipate rejection where none exists or is even looming. It doesn’t take away the emotion completely, but it keeps me from letting it overwhelm me and control my responses. I think getting older has helped too. I’ve relaxed and made a conscious decision to fully embrace friends who value the relationship as much as I do and to stop pursuing (so much) those who don’t.

  2. For some reason, I am just now seeing this post. (So I subscribed to the email notification for future posts.) You already know how much I relate to you and how similar we are, both in the rejection issues and the need to share our issues with others. I’m so proud to know you and I feel blessed to have the kind of heart connection with you that distance in miles doesn’t change. You are a great friend and I miss you! I love that you are blogging regularly and I get to enjoy your wit and insight even when we can’t get together for lunch!

  3. I think it’s safe to say, Jessica, that you’re not alone. And while I’m not confident or comfortable enough to share all that publicly, I admire that you so fearlessly do. Opening up, sharing and discussing things like this helps us all.
    Reading your blog reminds me of how much I liked you when we were in bookclub together. Your wit and personality shine through. And while I still like you, I wish we had a chance (or two) to get together once in awhile over a glass of wine (and/or a good book) and talk about how much we’re alike.
    Katie

    1. Miss Katie, I miss you, and everyone else from our old book club! I also hope we can have a glass of wine together sooner than later, to chat about books, kids and everything in-between. I look forward to getting back to Wisconsin for a visit and connecting with you!

  4. I am so impressed that you recognize this in yourself and you are sharing your thoughts. I think there are many people suffering in silence and I hope your words give courage to others to speak up. Your raw honesty is a beautiful thing and it shows your inner strength. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Also, group meditation is a wonderful experience. You draw energy from others in the group. It is very powerful experience and if you ever get the chance, you should join a group.

    Jaymi

    P.S. I Love your book!

  5. Jess, this breaks my heart to hear you feel this way, but I do understand. I think these thoughts are implanted in our minds at very young age. We learn to be very hard on ourselves. When I got cancer, I realized these thoughts were literally killing me and I needed to make a change. I ended up learning to meditate. I meditate on my own, but mostly with a group. I have learned to observe these thoughts in my mind with no judgment. I let them in and then let them go. Over time, you get better at doing this and you learn to be more present in your everyday life. It is a beautiful thing and I enjoy life so much more. When I feel like I am falling into those same destructive thoughts I go back to meditating. I have learned that if I meditate for 2-3 times a week I feel great and I can sleep like a baby at night. I hope this helps. Take care my friend. – Jaymi

    1. Jaymi, thank you for sharing your experience as well! Writing this post felt a bit like I was ripping my heart out and putting it on a platter for people to stomp on, but I felt like it was important because I know that unfortunately, more people feel like this than don’t, and I think that when we start to talk about something like this, it helps us connect to one another so that we can break down our own walls and hopefully be more compassionate.
      I am so in love with the idea of meditating to the degree that you do. And I hadn’t heard of people doing that together too much, rather than alone. It sounds like it has changed you tremendously. I may just have to give it a go 🙂 You’ve been down quite a road these last few years, it is so nice to hear that you are doing so well, and that you’re healthy and happy.

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