I've written you before, regarding my inability to make friends. Don't worry I won't pester you with that again. I've accepted that it isn't going to work out. Anyway, my apologies for pestering you again, I just was wondering if you had any advice on contending with rejection. It's just, I've been rejected a lot. Not just in like dating in romance, but just with friends and family as well and it really really hurts. It feels like I've been stabbed in the heart repeatedly. I am disabled and I accept that. I also accept that a lot of people just (I'm not sure of the proper word) prefer to not be around me due to my disability. I'm not angry or anything at these people. While it really hurts, I accept it. I know I'm not very attractive and this coupled with the physical disability makes me all the more undesirable. I know there are tons of people who must write you with way worse problems so by all means get to them first. I just want to know how to make it hurt less when I get shot down. Thanks for your time, sorry to bother you again.
Galileo (age 25)
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Oh, my dear, your letter is filled with unnecessary apologies. It is never a bother to hear from people. That is why I am here, for goodness’ sakes! I sure hope other people are not refraining from writing me because they don’t want to be a bother! If too much of that happens, there won’t be a column! So, pester me :-)
Hon, there are good, kind, and thoughtful people out there, and then there are shallow, pretentious, mean, backstabbing people. The people you describe who do not want to be around you because of your disability or because they don’t think you’re attractive? Why would you want to be in the company of people like that? I sure wouldn’t! I want to be around people who like me for my heart and my soul and my mind.
I know a little about rejection. When I was a boy growing up in Van Nuys, California, I was teased a lot for a number of reasons: I was very pale (a crime in this part of the country), I was unathletic in the extreme (Americans swoon over athletic prowess), and I was very bookish, a nerd. So, a triple wammy, really. Most people teased me. I was even teased for my Russian and German heritage once or twice!
The American classroom and school playground is like a wolf pack: there are alphas, omegas, and everyone in between who wants to be an alpha. They pick on and chase away the omegas in an attempt to rise through the hierarchy, or, as they said in my day, “to be one of the cool kids.”
As I grew up, I hoped that that sort of thing would be over with, that my peers would mature and not be concerned about shallow material things and social standing. Boy, was I ever wrong. It’s just as bad now as it was in high school. For example, when I entered the gay community, I discovered that there was an “A” list and a “B” list. The A’s were the ones with money who dressed well and drove expensive cars and were considered attractive. The B’s were everyone else. I was, and am, a B, and damn proud of it. I even knew a guy who was an A, but then he fell in love with a B, so the other A’s rejected him because he married “beneath his station.” Good Lord Almighty.
My husbear, Yogi, deals with all kinds of crap trying to cover the news in this valley, both from businesses and politicians. Not to get too detailed—while still remaining 100% truthful—you would be shocked by how many people get jobs or business deals around here by literally performing sexual favors. Meanwhile, competent, qualified people get passed by because they have moral standards and refuse to sink so low. It makes one shudder.
This is a long way around toward saying this: When you do get rejected, consider the source. If it is someone you don’t respect or admire, then any insult or rejection they cast your way should bounce off you like a beach ball. If it is from someone you respect, well then, perhaps you need to reevaluate why you respect that person, because they sure aren’t behaving like someone with a good heart.
That’s the way I handle it. I’m not bothered by anyone who looks down on me (especially the rich elite—the ones having inherited their money are the worst) because I know that they based that rejection on a measuring stick coated with the slime of greed, corruption, and vanity.
(A note on the above to readers to avoid hate mail: yesss, I do recognize that not all rich people are evil, but it is my sincere experience that most of them live in such a rarified world that they are unable to empathize with the vast majority of humanity; this has a way of sucking out the soul like a vampire feasting on blood.)
I sincerely hope, Galileo, that not everyone in your life has rejected you. Surely, there are a few who love you for you. Cling to those people! Let them know you appreciate and love them for their support. Blessed is the person who needs more than two hands to have enough digits to count his or her true friends. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.
You know what you have in common with the wealthiest, most powerful, and most beautiful people on the planet? All of you have exactly one soul. You can’t buy extra souls, or make your soul shine brighter than another person’s soul, no matter how much money you have. And, therefore, you are all equal in God’s eyes.
May you be able to discern the quality friends in your life, and ignore the ones who only care about quantities. It takes some doing, but I know that when you say you are not angry at these people, you have the potential to rise above like a delicious olive oil floating above a bitter-tasting vinegar.
Thank you for your question, which was an outstanding one.
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