Turns out that I am just NOT a fan. I know, I know… who is, right? *SIGH*
I’ve been reminded on a couple of fronts during the past month exactly how much it can suck ass, and how quickly– no matter how strong or confident I am in my everyday life – it can bring out my petulant inner 3-year-old. And she is a prissy, weepy, self-centered lil’ brat, that one.
I’ve written in this space before about how much work it seems to take to attain an active social life as a single, 40-something non-drinker. I’ve lost my key social touchstones to their own recent lifestyle changes (one BFF got married and had a youngun; the other took on a new, super demanding career), so left to my own devices, I’m flailing a bit.
Since mid-summer, I’ve been grateful to regularly hook up with a new girlfriend who I adore more every time I see her. We are so much alike, it’s kinda scary. We've bonded over the precariousness of the local social scene, and we both have been actively seeking out things to do together. I am so lucky to have found her (or that she found me, whatevs). She is turning out to be a fantastic wingman on so many levels.
This past weekend, my new bestie invited me out to watch the UofL game and then wander the Highlands Festival with her and a random assortment of our friends and acquaintances. It was a beautiful day, and we had a great time together.
Then long about 6 p.m. or so, she had to leave. I stayed at our sidewalk table with several peeps who had joined us throughout the day. I was also expecting to run into some other friends who said they might swing by. (Turns out I just missed them.)
During the window of time after my friend left, when I sat amongst the remaining group (only one of whom I’ve known for more than a hot minute), I never felt more invisible. At least not since middle school when I was a shy wallflower with zero self-esteem.
Having talked to a few people in my inner circle and reflecting on what I could have done differently, I can see now that the group was not intentionally excluding me. They are all very close and share their own language. I had several people confirm that this particular group is very cliquish because of certain, specific, common interests, whether they want to admit it or not.
I’m sure I could have been more assertive and made some different behavior choices as I sat at that table. I am not proud of the fact that, by the end, I was being a complete bitch because I’d had quite enough of people speaking over me as if I didn’t exist, or turning their backs on me when they were chatting with each other.
I’m sure they didn’t see it that way at all. They were talking amongst themselves just like always. And just like always, they weren’t actively seeking the contributions of a stranger. But the bottom line for me was that I was excluded, which to me translated to rejection. And that felt fucking icky.
What I learned from this experience is that rejection doesn’t have to be overt, like being passed over for a job, or turned down for a date or even a car loan. The feeling of rejection can be just as acute when it manifests itself in minor actions.
In chatting with my new girlfriend yesterday about how my Saturday night went from fabulous to crap-ass in less than an hour, I got to thinking about my most recent dating experience. (I learned that she had also experienced her own rejection that was completely unrelated to mine but happened at almost the same time. Which just proves we are destined to be soul sisters. But I digress.)
Nine months later, I’m still annoyed that my most recent canoodling didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, and I don’t exactly know why. I have accepted the fact that I may never know. But I do know that this dude can still hurt my feelings, and whether he means to or not, he does.
He would tell you that we’re friends, but to be quite honest I get more emotional support and active communication from my bank teller than I do from him. (Gee, was that snarky? Sue me.)
Anyhoo, here are some forms of rejection that can wound just as deep as if you got directly in my face and told me I suck as a human being.
I’ve experienced all of them at some point or another in romantic relationships, casual social situations and in my work life. Doesn’t matter who perpetrates the action, it stings every time.
• If I ask you a direct question and you blatantly ignore it and/or totally deflect the topic, that is a rejection. From my perspective, you are essentially telling me that my thoughts, feelings or contributions do not matter to you. Either that or you’re a coward. I’m a big girl and can handle any answer, no matter how shitty and negative. It hurts more to not get an answer at all. For realz.
• If you insist you care about me, but you don’t wish me a happy birthday or a simple congratulations on a milestone (when I’m certain you’re aware of both), that is a big fat rejection.
• If you don’t introduce me to your friends, family, colleagues, etc. when they approach us in public, that is a rejection. If you don’t ask me to participate in your life outside of our own one-on-one time, that is a rejection.
• If I call, text or e-mail you and you don’t respond ... like, ever ... that is a rejection. Three weeks later is better than not at all. That’s a big one, because active, meaningful communication is extremely important to me in any relationship — business or personal.
• If scheduling time with you is like pulling teeth, or you always expect me to adjust my lifestyle to yours and never the other way around, that shows me how insignificant I am to you. And that is a clear rejection.
• Oh, and not paying me for a job feels like a pretty big-ass rejection, too. Asshole.
I have a pretty thick skin most of the time, but repeated rejections from people who mean a lot to me can be hard to bear. There may be tears involved. And lots and lots of profanity.
Rejection from a client makes me question my abilities, and rejection in the midst of a social situation with acquaintances makes me wonder if I smell funny or have egg on my face.
All of it sucks big, fat… y’know.
I tend to use this blog as a jumping off point for self-improvement, and I’m sure this entry will be no different. Just not today.
I was going to try to circle back around to something positive to end this post, but that would be like trying to get blood out of a turnip. I'm going to allow this to stand as a bitch session and do its job .... purge negative energy from my system. So there.
So, just like this weekend... allow me to steal the epic, if totally immature, words and actions of Eric Cartman:
“Screw you guys, I’m going home.”
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.