‘Life is too short’, we often say it but never truly ponder over the meaning of those words. In times like these, I feel that many of us are forced to rethink the way we live our lives, the words we otter, and the actions we take. Having pondered deeply and thoroughly I have come to the realization that to live my life to the fullest, I have to let go of the fears of the past, and embrace the opportunities the future holds.
In my 22 years of living in this world, I have realized that rejection besides the fear of failure, is the one thing that keeps people from achieving their dreams. Rejection can be defined as the action of rejecting, or the act of being rejected. The rejection, I am talking about refers to the latter; the act of being rejected. I think many people often confuse rejection with failure. However, the two are very distinct. Because you see, rejection is no failure. Failure is giving up. Whereas everyone gets rejected, and it is how you handle rejection that determines where you will end up.
Personally, I have never been good at dealing with rejection, and it is now that I realize this. I have come to the realization that moving to the Netherlands has impacted my life in many ways, and not all positive. When I was living in Africa many years ago, I never had to fear rejection. I was always accepted the way I was, and I was an open-minded, smart, and joyful child. When I moved to the Netherlands, I changed in so many ways. I became a person different from the one I was in Africa. Often as the only black child in class, I felt that I had to adapt myself to the rest. I had to change and behave as was expected of me. I lost the openness I had when living in Africa and became afraid of speaking out. As curious as I was and am, I became afraid of asking, not because I was afraid of the answer, rather the feeling of rejection. And thus, I kept my mouth shut. I always had something to say, but I never said it. And today I can assure you, that there is no greater agony than having to bear untold stories inside you.
If there is one thing I know for sure, then it is that when people are truly determined, they can overcome anything. For this year I decided that I wanted to become the person I know, I was meant to be. The person that is not afraid of speaking out, the one that knows that she doesn’t have to change herself to be accepted. The one, that knows that she should not live for people’s acceptance, that she can do whatever the hell she wants, and that no one and no rejection can keep her from achieving her dreams. Basically, I wanted to become myself, and in my attempt of doing so, I got inspired and came to understand that rejection does not mean that one is not good enough, but that others just failed to notice you. I have come to understand that it is okay to experience fear. Sometimes it is okay to be rejected; however, it is never okay to change the person you are just because you want to fit in. Because you think you have to, because really; you don’t. One should always strive to be or become their truest self. Never, let anyone convince you otherwise, and know that it is by being yourself that you really can make a change in your life and, in the world. You cannot live a happy life when you are busy living one that is based on others’ approval or disapproval of yours. You must understand that just because you are different doesn't mean that you will be rejected. You being different in any way, is what makes you unique. It is the beauty within you.
I am sharing this because maybe, just like me there might be some people who are or have struggled with the fear of rejection, or something else. I wish for all to know that we can overcome our fears, that we can become the person we dream of becoming. We just must have the courage of identifying, understanding, and eventually facing our fears. And in doing so I want to advise you not to compare yourself with anyone, instead, compete with yourself and try to become excellent at whatever you are doing. Be it overcoming your fears, being more successful in life, or whatever you are after. I know you can; because I am going to face my fears and become the person I am meant to be. I am not going to bear the agony of not speaking out anymore. And if I can do that, then you most certainly also can. Being locked up is not great; however, we can try to use the time we have wisely by rethinking our goals and envisioning a better future for ourselves. For nothing is impossible. We can do whatever we put our minds to.
By: Hadiatou Barry