This post originally appeared on Medium. You can watch the video of the talk here.
On July 25th I took the TEDx stage in Fargo, ND and shared my most heartbreaking rejections and biggest humiliations in front of hundreds of people.
Yes, it was scary and vulnerable and the events I describe are kind of fucked up, but I did it for a good reason: I want to take the stigma of rejection and bullying out of our culture’s collective closet.
We each have our own stories of experiencing rejection. Some of them involve bullying, and others are merely a moment in time we put ourselves out there—we were vulnerable—and things didn’t work out how we wanted them to.
And it likely hurt us and caused real pain. I know it did for me. Tony Robbins says the two deepest human fears are the fear of not being good enough and the fear of not being loved.
Experiencing rejection validates both of these.
Our fear of rejection causes us to feel shame and pushes us to hide away. It dampens our own brilliance.
Do we share it with anyone? NO WAY! That would make us look weak and vulnerable. We keep our rejection a secret because we think it makes us unlovable. We’re afraid if we tell others, they’ll laugh at us, judge us, and make us feel even worse.
But that’s simply not true. I tried to hide my rejections for years and it just made everything worse.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Eventually, I discovered that seeking support and being open about my challenges made them easier to overcome, and made me feel much better.
By opening up it actually did the opposite of what I thought it would do. Instead of pushing people away, it brought them closer. By sharing my vulnerabilities it made others comfortable in sharing theirs, and this created a connection between us.
It was (and still is) uncomfortable to share, but learning how to let go of my own shame around rejection and instead using it as an opportunity to connect with others has been a major breakthrough in my life.
Rejection doesn’t define us. It doesn’t define you and it doesn’t define me. It’s simply part of each of our stories. Every person experiences rejection in some form and by letting go of the stigma, embracing courage and being vulnerable to share your own story, you’ll find the incredible gift of connecting more with others.
And that’s the surprising truth about rejection.
Please watch the video and let me know what you think.
If this message resonates with you, I’d love to hear about how rejection or bullying has impacted your life.
You can comment on the video, respond to this article or reach out on any of these mediums: Twitter, Facebook Page, YouTube, or Instagram.
Lastly, if you know of anyone who this message would impact, please pass the video on to them.
Photo credit: J. Alan Paul Photography