“I had been rejected but I was still in love.”
Cliché, I know, to quote Steve Jobs. But, I’ll tell you one thing, the man was onto something. I do not refer to his great fame, wealth, or successes. Humor me, there is a point here.
I have lived my life with full grit and passion. Waking up every morning is a miracle, and I have come a long way to finally appreciate it. But Rejection is a part of this life, and I do not undermine its destructive abilities. It eats at your bones when it hits you. It clings to your mind like a depressing outburst, always on repeat, playing over and over again.
But rejection is incentive. Rejection is renewal of purpose. It’s a liberating thought, that rejection’s pain is often self-inflicted and yet self-amendable. But you don’t see it then and there, until a little later.
Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple, the company he founded. He was removed from a path he himself had so lovingly paved. He was told he no longer served his very own dream’s purpose. Worse, he was told he was no longer good enough for that purpose. The outcome? Absolute devastation. A public failure. This is where Jobs’ words come back to me. I had been rejected, but I was still in love.
We have all felt it at one point or another, whether it’s in our relationships, at home, in school or at work. We have all been rejected. That doesn’t mean it is always fair or right. It doesn’t mean we deserve it. It just means that it happened. So the real question is, what is it that we should do then?
I was listening to Peter Sage’s thoughts and advice on how to stop waiting for life to happen to us. At one point, he speaks of the illusion of separateness. He gives an example of a red and white blood cell, both doing their jobs in our bodies as it is expected of them. They do not carry out the same tasks, each has its own path. Even though their paths continuously meet, it is unlikely that they die on the same day. Each blood cell dies on its own time, when the time comes. Then he says, we never hold a funeral every time a cell dies. Why not? Because we understand where it falls within the bigger picture. Others are there to move this mission forward. And then he says, why is it then that we don’t realize that maybe each one of us is just another cell in a universal body of consciousness? Terrifying question, I agree, but it makes a whole lot of sense. He says that once we begin to notice that all things in life are interconnected, we can free ourselves from the rather overwhelming weight life places on our shoulders. This usually happens when something painful or traumatic happens to us, which takes me back to rejection.
Life will hardly ever give you what you want. Even if it does, it might take it from you before you even get to embrace it. A red blood cell might never deliver that last unit of oxygen it was meant to deliver. You might lose a lover before you were done hugging them. You might be told you are not good enough for your dream job before you even get to taste it. You might put someone to rest before you were done having them, seeing them and knowing them. And that’s okay. The interconnectedness of our world, the fact that we are as much of the universe as the universe is of us – as Neil deGrasse Tyson would say – is a comfort. The damage of Rejection is merely ourselves destructively staring at a mirror. What happens to you is just the story, it is not entirely definitive, it is not really who you are.
After leaving Apple, jobs went on to starting NEXT, another company, which Apple bought later on and ironically, Steve Jobs found himself home again. But meanwhile, he had started Pixar, the creator of TOY STORY, and the greatest animation studio in the world. At the peak of his failure, He also met the woman of his dreams, who later on became his wife.
Rejection is a high tide, thrashing mercilessly, between the shores of our being. It teaches us. It molds us, but more importantly it helps us see the bigger and more important picture. I have had enough day dreams in a day to last me a year’s worth of nights. I might live a full life without realizing a fraction of them, and that is also okay. What I can do in this regard is peddle a little harder, insist that I can, if I try, make something happen. As Peter Sage says, let us stop waiting for life to happen to us, and hide in the corner whenever it doesn’t. You can either sink, or swim.
I choose to swim.