In the 2001 film Legally Blonde, Reese Witherspoon, playing Elle Woods, delivered one of the most memorable statements (according to me) in cinematic history. After a dinner Elle had thought would lead to a proposal, she discovers that her long-term boyfriend, Warner, was breaking up with her because she did not fit the aesthetic of the kind of woman his family wanted him to marry.
To which (after an outburst and with tears in her eyes) Elle responded “Because I am not a Vanderbilt, suddenly I am white trash? I grew up in Bel Air, Warner, across the street from Aaron Spelling. I think most people would agree that’s better than some stinky old Vanderbilt.” In my pre-teens, I watched this scene and felt incredibly sad for Elle, I could not relate to what she was going through but I felt for her.
But the older I got, the more experience in the dating world I got and the more I re-watched that movie and particularly that scene, the more I could relate to what she was experiencing in that moment. In my early 20s, rejection was something I was so incredibly afraid of and in my later 20s, I had become very numb to it, I was almost expectant of it in certain scenarios.
For most of us, in our youth, the idea of rejection hovers over us like a cloud. It affects our esteem and relationships. Historically speaking, and well into our future, rejection will be inherent in our stories as people.
When you are younger, rejection of any form, be it familial, romantic or professional, can be completely devastating. You are so unsure of your self-worth and identity that every “no” is not so much a little lap against the shore but a tsunami, crashing against you and destroying whatever wood and clay foundation you had built along the sand.
Getting older and wiser does not mean you will face less rejection. In fact, I think most of us would agree you encounter it more.
Dating is primarily a social dance of rejection and attraction among the billions of people who inherited our planet.
Technology has had an immeasurable effect on meeting, courting and coupling. At no other time in history has mankind had the ability to browse an infinite pool of potential partners each day, filtered for you by location, hobbies, fetishes, degrees and so on.
I could potentially use the Global feature on Tinder and position myself in Paris, meet someone on the app and could be on a boat cruise date on the canal Saint Martin in a week’s time (give or take pandemic travel restrictions).
On the flipside, dating has never brought about the sheer volume of rejection we face today. One hundred people on an app can reject you in a single day (I just want you to let that number sink in).
Imagine that being the circumstance of a 22-year-old, still discovering themselves. This would be terribly upsetting. In Greek mythology, the famous Greek poet Sappho threw herself over a cliff after being rejected by a ferryman named Phaon. Imagine she had been rejected a hundred times in one day? Does it register now?
The fact that you face rejection often in your life does not mean you are better suited at handling it, nor does it say anything about who you are as a person.
There could be a myriad of reasons as to why you have been rejected. You take it in stride and keep it moving, continue to tell yourself that it is their loss and it probably did not work because there is something better suited for you out there. Which, more often than not, is usually the case.
Do not let rejection define you, do not let it hold you in fear of approaching someone you see potential in. Do not let it hold you captive and see yourself in a less than capacity.
Hold your head up, know that there will be many yeses and you might probably have to do some rejecting in the near future yourself.