Breaking the Rejection Cycle

(Insert word here) is the root of all heartache. Many a philosopher, poet, thinker, and average Joe have taken a swing at filling out that blank. Well, give me the bat and add “college student” to the list. Our thoughts are in a constant flux, subconsciously forming and branching off in multiples by the minute, but the emotions behind these thoughts determine how long they stick.

And boy, what a difference in “stickiness” these underlying feelings make. Thoughts rooted in positive emotion seem to show up to the brain party just long enough to grab a slice of pizza, kiss the host on the cheek, and promptly scootle their bootles out the door. The good vibes that enable positive thinking – compliments, laughing with your homies, finding a dollar in your jean pocket, not getting hit by a brick wall of humidity upon leaving your dorm, eating an epic Chipotle burrito, the fact that you are in college at all – become second- nature to those who have them. The gravity of these giant blessings, if you will, is downplayed over time until they are no longer registered by your mind as blessings, but as entitlements. They lose their weight. They become ingrained in your everyday routine.

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They become your new, and only, frame of reference. They become your reality. (For example: Ask anyone on campus to describe themselves, and you probably will not hear “I went to ____ high school.” They shed the high school frame of reference when they came to college. Connection to that former identity fades by the day.) But do you remember the stomach-churning anxiety you felt while refreshing your UF email for the decision? How intimidated you were by the acceptance patterns and caliber of students? The days when you convinced yourself that you wouldn’t get in? Yeah, me too.

But I also remember how loudly I screamed when I saw my acceptance. How my entire family took a “happy lap” around the house. How insanely proud I was to be able to call myself a Gator. The day I was accepted, being a Gator symbolized that all of my hard work in high school paid off; today, I am a Gator who can’t remember NOT being a Gator. I never remember to look around and say, “I worked so hard to get here and, sweet nibblets, I’m here.

” I lost the journey (hours of studying, extra-curriculars, projects, all-nighters) that I took to get to my destination. Rejections from organizations hit me like a semi-truck, but I fail to remember that I am lucky enough to even be here. I fail to remember that tens of thousands of people would kill to be in my position – as a STUDENT, let alone as a member of these organizations. Now if that doesn’t put the “b” in bogus, I don’t know what does. I think we all forget where we are and how much we have been blessed with.

But hey, even though you have the power to choose what thoughts to focus on, human nature is rooting for negativity as champion. So we mustn’t be so hard on our negative selves, man. Ever heard that a person, when given a giant string of compliments and a single insult, will only remember the insult? There’s merit to that. Your positive thoughts, your reminders of success, are fighting a battle they are predisposed to lose. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the success complex.

Your reality has become so rooted in positives that you no longer register them when they come your way. You expect to get everything you really want, to be met with nothing but “yes”s, on the grounds that… well, you want it. So you should have it.

And you therefore WILL have it. This toxic expectation of CONSTANT success does two things: dulls your happiness (or your indifference) when you DO get what you want, and amplifies your sadness when you DON’T. Expectation really is the root of all heartache. (It seems that my boy Shakespeare was right. Surprise, surprise.) Why do we obsessively focus on the “have-nots” while ignoring the “haves”? Especially when the pile of positives FAR OUTWEIGHS the pile of negatives? I don’t know.

But let’s break the cycle. If any form of rejection ever has you down, do me a favor: Stop and remember that everything you have ever thought, said, and done has gotten you to where you are right now. And everything you will think, say, and do from that moment on will get you to where you need to be.