It's not you. It's me.
I swear, it's not you. It's me.
Well, it's a little you.
Who am I kidding? It's so you.
In fact, if you weren't you, we would still be us.
Does this sound familiar? Have you been the recipient of this peppy little oratory? It's called rejection, and if you have a pulse, you've probably experienced it.
Someone once told me that life is merely a series of rejections until we reach the end, when life itself rejects us, and we die. He wasn't a glass half-full kind of guy. But he had a point.
Rejection takes many forms: The baseball team, the credit card, the college, the club, the clique, the loan, the job. All of these and so many more are fraught with the danger of rejection.
But then there's the mama of all rejections. The bone-crushing, soul-sapping, mind-blowing, heart-breaking rejection. And it usually starts with these words: "I love you." And it ends with: "Go away."
Well, maybe not those exact words, but the meaning is clear. A moment ago, I thought you were the love of my life, but now I know you're the mistake of my life. In other words, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
And there we stand, the rejectees, our mouths hanging open, our hips bruised from being blindsided. We didn't see it coming. Didn't you just say how wonderful I am? Wasn't love mentioned just hours ago? Didn't I recently hear something about being beautiful, perfect, a soul mate?
And after we recover from the initial shock and can draw breath again, we might negotiate: I don't have to be me, we might say. I can change, be a whole different me. Anything not to be rejected by you.
But negotiations don't work, at least not permanently. Because in the end it's not about me, it's about you. I mean, it's about him or her and not about you at all. You were always you -- you haven't changed -- and he or she should have recognized that before.
You. Fabulous you. How could anybody reject you?
So where are you now? In bed, surrounded by Cheetos crumbs and Ben & Jerry's containers? Watching Nora Ephron movies in your stained pajamas and unwashed hair? You're strong, but you're injured. You are Joe Namath on a bad day. That is, on the disabled list. That is, you were once a star, and now you're in pain.
When there's love involved, rejection slices through a person like a knife through butter, and it can leave a nasty scar, usually in the form of a fear of being rejected again. You want love, you want companionship, but the thought of going out there again makes you recede into the fetal position.
I think about this fear a lot because I write about the misadventures of Gladie Burger, a matchmaker with commitment issues and the heroine in my Matchmaker Series. She's gone from one temporary job to another and has never settled down romantically, and as an author I torture her with having to commit to life, her job and love.
I have the same fear of rejection. This paralyzing feeling is wrapped up in the fear of failure. If he rejects me, it's because I've failed, I think. If I don't get the job, don't sell the book, don't win the prize, I've been rejected, and I am -- gasp -- a failure, I reason. It's not you, it's me, I cry into my pillow. It's me, me, me.
You know what? It may be me. It may not. I may learn from the rejection. I may not. But once it's done, it's done. It's not giving up to move on. The greatest success is built on a series of failures. In other words, those so-called failures are building blocks towards success.
As the song goes: "I've got to be me." Start now. Be you, and sooner or later you'll hear:
It will always be you