Fear of Rejection by Ana Warner

Lying in bed, tired from a long day, I remember grabbing my phone to respond to messages on social media, but who knows how I landed on his page. His smile caught my attention first; as I scrolled through his profile, he looked familiar, as if we knew each other from somewhere important, yet I’d never spoken nor spent time with him in this lifetime. 

A few days passed and I couldn’t get him out of my head, so I decided to do some digging online. I didn’t know whether to be impressed or intimidated by the fruits of my research, but with the little detail I found about him, I’d already placed him on a pedestal. Weeks came and went, but I thought of him every day. 

It reached the point where I was convinced that I needed to see a psychiatrist. I figured that this pull towards him was explained by my wanting a relationship, thus I’d idealized him as “the one.” I tried getting answers from a spiritual perspective, wondering if perhaps my soul recognized his soul somehow. Perhaps God brought him to my attention as a reminder of all the fish in the sea; or perhaps I had heartache still to heal from my past. 

The more I tried not to think of him, the harder it became. Intuitively, I longed to surrender to all that could be and learn whatever I needed to learn from this connection, but my rational mind wouldn’t let me go there. At first, I sensed that he would contact me, but time ticked by and no message came, which only reinforced the explanations floating through my mind. All I wanted was to make sense of my life. 

At times, I thought of contacting him, but what would I say? I knew nothing about his situation and didn’t want to interfere with his life. Besides, we were technically strangers and my pride wouldn’t let me be another random girl messaging him blind. So, I tried to surrender and simply let things be, but I failed miserably. My obsession intensified and caused me much distress and anxiety—all from not getting the outcome I wanted or wishing he’d contact me first. I longed to find out, once and for all, what this connection was all about. 

With time, I came to accept that I might never get any answers from him—but I prayed for signs that hinted at an explanation. I remember watching a movie where a particular line presented me with a light-bulb moment: “If wishes were fulfilled all the time, there would be no difference between real life and dreams.” I thought, could this be a sign? I started seeing angel numbers relentlessly; and again I questioned, could this be a sign? 

Fall ended and winter began, and still I found myself in this obsessive space of trying not to think about a stranger. I didn’t dare tell anyone what was running through my head, for fear of judgment or stigmatic beliefs; instead, I lived my fantasy out in private, assuming that no one could read my thoughts. 

One day, my homeboy sent me a few funny memes (he knows that I love to laugh and especially at inappropriate memes), but one of the four memes was different. By no means was it funny, reading: “According to psychology, when you can’t get someone out of your head, the other person is also thinking of you.” When I read that, I almost fell out of my chair; I hadn’t told him (or anyone) about my thoughts, so why the hell would he randomly send me that meme? Could this be another sign? 

The intensity of my thoughts grew and I felt increasingly sick of them. I decided from a spiritual standpoint to “cut ties” with our connection, despite not knowing what lessons (if any) awaited me. I tried praying to get him out of my head; I tried meditating and channeling his energy away from me, but instead of ousting him altogether, I found myself praying for him—wishing him well and hoping that he was happy. I wished that he’d dare to dream big and live out his purpose with no apologies. I wished him the unconditional love that we all deserve, even though he couldn’t return it to me. 

A few months later, an old friend flew into town for a visit. She’s one of my favorite people in the world, so when she talks, I listen. She drinks a lot and doesn’t give a shit about what anybody 

thinks—perhaps that’s why I like her energy. She’ll drink you under the table but has a whole lot to say; most of which is funny, but there’s wisdom there as well. During her visit, right after she finished a whole bottle of Hennessey, she started speaking (with her Ghanaian accent) from the heart: “Chale, love go do you wrong oh? Ehhhh, this is why I go neva, eva give my heart completely to anyone again. I am not a fool.” 

I laughed and laughed at her triviality, but she’d articulated something that stood out to me. I kept thinking about it after she left, eventually figuring out how it might apply to me. Apparently, rejection was the most excruciating pain she’d ever felt and she’d never put herself in the position of feeling that pain again. 

Meanwhile, I’d come to believe that my past hurts were resolved; after all, I had forgiven my former partners. But I’d also lived my life believing that men and women have separate roles—for one thing, it’s up to the man to pursue the woman he finds attractive and not the other way around. With this belief, I could not approach this guy, thus setting a precedence for our dynamic without knowing whether he’d reciprocate the feeling. If I did that, it would become my role to stir up the relationship for its duration, perhaps telling him what to do or how to do it. My traditional belief in having a male “head of the household” would then be tarnished. 

I told myself all of this, but it wasn’t my cultural beliefs that held me hostage; it was my fear of being rejected. I did still feel the effects from my previous experiences with men—deep inside my body—experience of being left out in the cold with no explanation. If I reached out to him, he might “choose” someone else instead of me. Yet, it was definitely “safer” to keep my thoughts to myself. 

I feared not being good enough for him, since I saw him in such high regard, thinking, “What would a man like him want with a woman like me?” I did not see myself as being worthy of the men who actually fit the description on my checklist (which I had actually written down). But how could I dream up a list if I didn’t feel worthy enough to receive it? Was I subconsciously blocking my own blessings? 

I took a harsh look inside myself and gazed at my reflection in the mirror, watching my eyes bead with honesty. I questioned why I believed in what I believed, admitting my shortcomings and learning to accept myself—flaws and all. If I could feel good enough for myself, perhaps I’d feel good enough for him. He was nothing like my past, nor anyone else, for that matter. Rather, he was ray of hope, gesturing towards the future. 

With the arrival of every new day, I remind myself of who I have become. I have begun to believe in this girl, and people have begun to see the difference in me. I’m all glowed up, standing stronger than ever before. I’ve become a better friend and a more complete person. I proudly stand with integrity and honesty, no matter whether my honesty gets me into trouble. Instead of questioning the pull I felt towards this man I’d never met, I surrendered to it fully, even in his absence. This time, my mind let me. 

Now I sit neutral with all of this, knowing that our connection triggered my own healing, ridding me of the heavy-load of bullshit I’d been carrying around unaware. Today, I still think of him and send him positive thoughts. Some days, I look at my phone and hope that he has messaged me; other days, I wonder if the world is right to believe so adamantly in its roles. I wonder if I should message him after all—so yeah, I’m a work in progress, but I’m far less likely to fall. 

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​We respectfully acknowledge that Black Girl Collective operates on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish People, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (musqueam)​, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish)​, and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh)​ Nations.​