Mark Belden embraces the sting of rejection. Each time it gets a little easier.
It was late. I was drunk.
Somehow I had managed to to string together a series of barely coherent words to get a girls number a few weeks back.
She wanted to come over. I was finally about to have sex.
“This is it! After this, I’m golden. I’ll know everything it takes to get sex. Then it’s just a matter of repetition.”
I chugged another beer and waited for her to arrive.
The sex was terrible.
At least from what I remember.
I guess she liked it? It was the kind of moaning you make when your alarm goes off Monday morning and you have to go to your shit job.
I woke up in a daze. Something was off.
“Fuck… why don’t I feel like a king? Was this what I was working for?”
My head was pounding. My friend who had stayed the night came downstairs.
“How was it? Don’t you feel like a badass?”
“I don’t know.” I said.
I had spent two years working to improve myself. I was in shape. I had worked on my social skills. I did my best to dress better. If there was a degree in personal development I would have had a PhD. Or so I thought.
Where was my feeling of, “I’ve made it?”
The harsh reality of the fear of rejection came back that Monday morning when I walked past Molly in the hallway. She was the one I wanted. As soon I saw her, fear punched me right in the face. I looked away. I acted like I didn’t see her and kept walking.
There is no finish line with fear.
You don’t get to put a checkmark in the box next to “No more fear!” in the game of life.
Fear is here to stay— and that’s okay.
The gift of fear.
I’ve learned I’ve had to make friends with fear. Sometimes it feels like one of those dysfunctional relationships you see on the trashy daytime TV shows. We yell at each other, there’s drama, then I breakdown and cry.
But when fear and I truly get along — I’m thankful for it.
- Fear is what made me move forward and progress in my life.
- Fear is what made me realize I needed to get my dating life handled and that I was an absolute disaster.
It was the fear of being alone that would haunt me at night, that made me get up the next day and get outside of myself.
I had no other choice, but to numb out with drugs and alcohol. Shit, I even did that. Fear doesn’t leave when you want to hide from it. It’s there waiting when for you. So you might as well make peace with it.
When I first started practicing conversations—not just with women I was interested in—but with ANYONE, I was terrified. Sweaty pits, cold hands, shaky voice and all. It’s the fear that only challenged me to take that ONE step towards improvement.
It was the fear that helped me calibrate my actual skill level. Listening to the perfect combination of pump up rap songs helped me believe I was a baller and I could talk to any model I wanted.
But it’s fear that showed me where I actually had to take the next step.
As much as I wanted to talk to all the hot girls like I was James Bond, fear pointed at the grandma walking down the street and said,
“Smile at her first and prove you can do the basics.”
Thanks fear… you bitch.
The gift of rejection.
Rejection sucks. There’s really no way around that.
I used to write scenarios on how I would handle a woman’s rejection. I wanted to be some kind of wizard that knew how to cast spells and never appear weak or like someone wasn’t into me.
How narcissistic of me. Do I really think I can navigate my way through the world without someone hating me?
Just the other day, some guy on the road cussed me out because I was sitting at the stop light and he sped up behind me. He called me a bitch and looked like he wanted to kill me.
I busted out in laughter. I wasn’t mad about it. I’ve been that pissed off, too.
What I’ve learned is that not everyone is for me. I do my best to be a good guy. I try to listen, be respectful; I work hard.
So when a pretty girl I’m interested in tells me she has a boyfriend or doesn’t reply to my message on Tinder does it really matter?
Life is short.
The last thing I want is some kind of pity date or relationship.
And I don’t mean that in a woo-woo, “It wasn’t meant to be” kind of way. I guess it’s not meant to be.
But I know that I don’t want to waste my time on half-assed connections or “convenient” girlfriends.
Every time I get rejected, I let myself feel it.
I don’t have some witty comeback or snarky remark to make her look dumb. I let the sting course up and down my body. Because every time I get shut down, it gets a little easier.
Putting yourself out there is scary.
You are stripping away your armor, and letting yourself be shown.
When you ask her out what you are communicating is, “I’m taking a risk, I’m showing I’m interested and I’m vulnerable. Do you feel the same way?”
It’s fun to own that. I also don’t have time to fabricate scenarios on what to do if things go bad—because they will. Just let it ride.
The gift of death.
Death and fear are probably friends. Two friends on that trashy daytime show.
Death is like the pregnancy test that comes out at the end. All the drama and bullshit before is just fluff. After the pregnancy test things are clear.
“You aren’t the father!”
It’s so clear. It’s black and white. There’s no room for error.
Death is like that. It’s very clear. You can use your own death to your advantage when tackling rejection-based fears.
If I want a life of good health, good relationships, and success—what do I need to do today knowing my death is inevitable?
It doesn’t have to be a fear-driven, “OH NO I’M GONNA DIE! BETTER GET BETTER AT TALKING TO CHICKS” kinda thing.
More like, “Today I’m alive, and I have 24 hours. How can I use this to become a better man?”
The Good Men Project gives people the insights, tools, and skills to survive, prosper and thrive in today’s changing world. A world that is changing faster than most people can keep up with that change. A world where jobs are changing, gender roles are changing, and stereotypes are being upended. A world that is growing more diverse and inclusive. A world where working towards equality will become a core competence. We’ve built a community of millions of people from around the globe who believe in this path forward. Thanks for joining The Good Men Project.
Support us on Patreon and we will support you and your writing! Tools to improve your writing and platform-building skills, a community to get you connected, and access to our editors and publisher. Your support will help us build a better, more inclusive world for all.
Photo credit: iStock