“I am no one’s first choice.”
Over the past 15 years or so this sentence, or some variation of it, has played in my head like a one hit wonder. Sometimes it is a low tempo and sometimes the bass is so loud I can hear my head pounding with the beat of each word.
Self-love, self-care and self-value are all things I proudly advocate both on this blog and in my every day life. But the truth is, I advocate it so strongly, because I struggle with it so deeply. In the past, that sentence, and more importantly, allowing myself to believe that sentence, has lead me into a series of relationships and situations in which my value was so undermined I was unrecognizable. A specter of myself, I walked through life surviving but not living.
These thoughts and feelings, if allowed to take hold, can prove fatal to one’s spirit. “I want you to pick me out of a lineup. Out of ten other girls, I want to be the one you choose.”
So, how do we put ourselves first when we always feel second best? And what causes these feelings and insecurities to take such deep roots within our consciousness?
For me, I can trace the etiology back to as far as I can remember. My father chose a new family over me, the few boys ever liked chose prettier girls over me and guess what, now even girls choose prettier girls over me.
Rejection is a part of life. We are told “no” on a daily basis and that is okay. Sometimes we should pass on that piece of chocolate cake. Sometimes it’s wise to not buy that new car just yet. Sometimes we need to work on the weekend instead of going to the beach.
But being rejected by a person, especially a person we care about, is perhaps one of the most scarring and tormenting processes for the human psyche to undergo, and for people like me who have had more than their fair share, coming back can take a bit more out of us each time.
When Thomas Edison was in the process of inventing the light bulb he was met with constant rejection by his attempts. When questioned about it, he is famously noted to have said, “I have not failed, I have discovered 10,000 ways how NOT to make a light bulb.” The idea of course being, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail at something, you are always learning something in the process. And that shouldn’t dissuade you from trying again.
I like to look at rejection in this simple way. I have not been failed at love, but instead have found another person I should NOT be with. And that should not dissuade me from keeping my heart open and a smile on my face.
Rejection from people we love can teach us more about ourselves than acceptance at times. Because it is during those times that we are given the choice to rise or fall. To clam up in hopes of never being hurt again, or blossom like a flower, accepting both the sunshine and the rain on our petals.
So really, I reckon the bottom line is this: The only person who’s choice should matter is my own. And I will always choose me first.