Those two words create cause and effect when it comes to our emotions. And neither the cause or the effect feels good. Rejection and doubt have no age discrimination. Nor do they care about our sex, skin color, or socioeconomic status. At some point in our lives, we face rejection. And as a result, the feeling of doubt creeps in. Why not me? Am I not good enough? Why don’t they like me? What could I have done better? These are all thoughts that make us question ourselves, our self-worth; and they chip away at our confidence.
I was on the phone with a friend this afternoon. She was recounting the story of her young son’s recent encounter with rejection. For weeks, her son, who has a true love for superheroes (possibly because of his ability to climb walls like Spiderman), had been planning out his perfect Halloween costume. But rather than going with the predicted and popular choice of Captain America or some other Marvel comic book hero, this wide-eyed 5-year-old found his inspiration from “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...”
It was decided. He was going to be Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies. He even practiced his Chewy sounds to the point of perfection. Not only was this beautiful child fully embracing his gentle giant costume, but he was also committed to winning this year’s Halloween costume contest. Every year, a local restaurant holds a big Halloween costume contest for kids. It’s an event. And it’s something that the little ones look forward to every year. It’s the pre-curser to the real Halloween night. And an excuse to wear their costumes more than once (plus snag a few extra Skittles and Reese’s cups). My friend told me about the excitement in her son’s voice as he carefully dressed himself in his furry costume and with a resolute tone said, “I’m definitely going to win the costume contest! I love my costume and I know it will be the best one!”
But would he really win? Could there be another Chewbacca impostor? Or would the winning costume be the work of a beautiful seamstress, who sewed and crafted her child’s perfect costume? There was no way of knowing how each child’s costume would be judged. And as the costume contest kicked off, my friend worried about how she would handle her son’s disappointment if his name wasn’t called.
Rejection. It has no age limit.
As the names of “the best costume contest” were being called, young Chewy sat patiently waiting, anticipating his name. He was on the edge of his seat, fully believing that he would be called upon as the winner. Until finally, the microphone went silent. Chewy was never called. My friend’s heart sank for her son. A few painful seconds passed until the little boy looked at his mother, fighting back the tears in his eyes (like any superhero would do), and said, “I never want to come back to this place again.” He felt rejected. And in that moment, maybe he even doubted his ability to win future costume contests.
Rejection. It can really paralyze us as human beings. Whether we don’t get the job we so badly want, or a relationship we fight for crumbles, or we lose a costume contest to a non-superhero. Rejection can make us doubt our ability to be winners.
My friend was able to use her child’s loss in the costume contest as a great teaching tool. The lessons in this story are timeless. And ageless. Sometimes we don’t win the prize. But that doesn’t mean that we should lose the fighter inside of us, or our competitive spirit. Always believe that you can win. You know the old adage, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either. In the face of defeat, find another way to get what you want. Go after a different job; meet someone who will be a better match for you; find the best seamstress in town and lock her in for next year’s costume contest.
Never quit on yourself. Even when others don’t choose you. Your confidence level may feel off balance, but your will power must stay steady. You may be knocked down. Make the choice to get back up.
Rejection. Doubt. It happens to everyone. But here’s the difference maker... Only you choose if you’re going to be defeated.