The Fear of Rejection

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

I would say that the reason most people do not move forward on many decisions is the fear of rejection.

The power that rejection holds over most peoples lives is one of great strength. It dictates what they say, how they act, and what they believe. All in the name of being accepted.

As I have gotten older I reflect back on high school more and more and realize how much of a jerk I could have been. I say could have been because at the time I really do not know if I was or not. There are specific memories of me playing the role of a jerk and treating people like they were an oddity that could not fit in. This seemed like a pretty normal process for me and my friends, not because we wanted to hurt people, but because we didn’t know it hurt them. Often times the thing we found funny was the thing that was slowly destroying the spirit of the one that did not fit in. But they never said anything. Maybe it was because they didn’t want to be rejected, but probably because they just wanted to be one of us.

Rejection has a powerful hold, it keeps people expressing their true feelings to friends, potential significant others, and family members. The odd thing about rejection is that you cannot experience it unless you speak up. Maybe that is why it is so powerful, because it never has to flex its muscles until someone gets bold enough to challenge it.

Currently I am fighting its power. Afraid of what someone will think when I tell them how I truly feel is holding me back and slowly bringing about a tortuous death. I doubt this is a quote but it should be: “Patience is enough to kill a man” and as much as I believe that, patience is exactly what is holding me away from rejection. I think the rejection I fear right now is that I will have to move on to something else. It’s easier to just sit back and keep believing then starting over.

The power of rejection is only as powerful as we allow it to be.

Do you ever feel the pressure of rejection?


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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Jason Vana

    I feel the fear of rejection a lot. It was actually one of my main struggles I had to work through when I first came to Christ. And you’re right, it definitely isn’t something that rears its head until you try to be bold and challenge it.

    I’ve learned the best way to overcome or fight that fear is to learn who you are and to stop comparing yourself to others. At least that’s what worked for me. When I know who I am, when I like who I am and am not wishing I was more like this person or that person, I am more comfortable with being myself around others…and not worried about whether they accept me or not.

    But I still struggle with it somewhat – probably always will.

    Thanks for being open and vulnerable with it!

    • Kyle Reed

      learning who you are is one of the most challenging things I have done

  • Jenny

    All the time. I was the kid who was singled out my whole life, even as an adult I often feel like the oddity. As if no one will ever love me for me, because i am a “reject.”

    I’ve personally been rejected so many times though that my hearts become numb to it in a lot of ways.

    Yesterday I made a small plunge and asked the cute boy in my major to be part of my group for a project that will last all semester. I actually shouted it across three rows of seats, but he came. I was not rejected. Huge progress considering I’ve had my eyes on him for 6 months now and didn’t even have enough guts to learn his name. It will probrably turn out like all the rest, but this time I was able to face rejection a little bit.

    Baby steps…. Kyle, you can do this.

    • Kyle Reed

      nice, I like that you are being proactive…way to go

  • Felicity

    Especially frustrating for a connector, right? I know, I face this one all the time. I blogged about it from the relational aspect today. Sometimes it feels like we haven’t left high school at all. At least in some ways.

    I totally believe you are right that the power is broken when the fear is confronted, it is just so hard to get the courage for that. Thankful for Jesus loving me no matter what, but my awareness of and confidence in that is obviously lacking.

    • Kyle Reed

      courage is huge huge huge. and yes very hard for someone who wants to meet everyone

  • Jeff Goins

    All the time.

  • dustin

    WIthout a doubt. I think that the fear of failure (people will think I’m stupid, this idea will fail so why try, etc) can be crippling at times.

    • Kyle Reed

      very much so, very crippling

  • Ben

    Move on to something else, or move on to something(one) better?

    As the saying goes, “Shi* or get off the toilet”

    Man up man, just do it!

    I’m probably doing you a disservice by assuming what I think you’re debating, and if so, disregard everything I just said.

    • Donald Borsch Jr

      Ditto. What you are “feeling” sounds dreadfully close to being double-minded. James told us not to be so, in The Book of James.

      And for me, sometimes it is easier to say I’m sorry than it is to ask permission.

      Just do it.

  • Brent

    I totally feel the pressure of rejection, it’s gotten easier in some contexts but in others it is still a fight. I’ve been looking for a job for about a year and am finally getting used to rejection on that front and don’t worry about it much at this point. on the more personal level what you said “Afraid of what someone will think when I tell them how I truly feel…” captures how I feel quite often.

    • Kyle Reed

      its tough I think because we want to know what people are thinking, but I wonder if we did would it change the way we respond to them or act around them?

  • Sam Mahlstadt

    In my life, I have seen fear of failure not necessarily put the breaks on creating, but worse, creating safe stuff. And safe stuff (conversations, poems, paintings, books, etc.) suck pretty much across the board.

    • Kyle Reed

      yes, that is a bad place to be and very bad art comes out of that. Being vulnerable with your art because you are putting yourself out there and in return letting people accept or reject you, thats tough

  • Adam

    I fear rejection mostly because I fear failing. I think the two are buddies!

    • Kyle Reed

      like best friends

  • shellie (baylormum)

    Fear of failure via rejection is totally intertwined in my mind. There is not one without the other. I have lived much of my 53 years like that. You would think with age comes wisdom!! It has, it just feels about 30 years late! And recovery from addiction. Getting back to God and feeling His love and His arms around me. And His arms pushing me forward. As a reminder He is ALWAYS there. Whether I feel Him or not.

    Always looking for approval. Growing up not knowing what approval was supposed to feel like. Until college & giving my life to Christ. Then seemingly walking away from the best part of my life until I admitted I was powerless over my addiction AND my life was unmanageable! Realizing in that moment that God was always there!

    I still fear rejection. Like now, not being able to find a job as a pharmacist. Back to thinking: “I did some stupid things 5 years ago & I am being punished”. The only one punishing me IS me. No one wants me because I have that stigma of addiction hanging over my RPh license. Can’t blame the employers, but at least hear my side of the story some 4 years removed from those actions. Don’t reject me. See me now. I AM worthy. Of all that awaits me.

  • Kamrie

    Heck yes. We all feel this pressure sometimes. NO one wants to feel like the idiot but in the end it is the ones who are idiots that take the risk who will reap the benefits

  • Allison

    Oh my word. I haven’t had a chance to read your blog in a couple of weeks so I’m obviously just getting to this post, but TODAY I have this fear of rejection that you speak of. I makes my stomach hurt. I’m trying to focus on something else…and then I read this. Gee thanks. :)

    • Kyle Reed

      sorry, well not really.
      That fear needs to continually be examine, at least for myself that is.

      It is so gripping, but yet it also can be very freeing because it lets us know we are alive and can feel something.
      Fight that fear and win

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