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Why Rejection Is The Most Valuable Lesson To Learn As A 20-Something

Rejection should be the first thing we learn how to cope with when we enter the real world, but for some reason, it often gets swept under the rug. Maybe it's because since birth, our parents have believed that we were perfect and never thought they'd need to explain that sometimes, the world just won't accept us with open arms.

We are also the latchkey generation. In between business meetings and making sure that asking for checkered Vans wasn't the first sign of us transitioning into a “scene kid,” our parents didn't have time to tell us that it's okay to be rejected.

Recently, I was at a bar and a guy used my Nirvana shirt to strike up a conversation about the band's induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, which naturally led us on the always-fun Lorde-hate rant (she fronted the band for a few performances, gag).

He was cute, and I liked that he used one of my interests to spark a lively conversation with me. He bought me a drink and we remained chatting for a few minutes before he said, point blank and out of nowhere, “Do you want to come home with me?”

I was a little caught off-guard, but replied simply and sternly, “No.”

He then got extremely angry, said, “F*ck you. I bet that shirt's from Urban-f*cking-Outfitters,” and stormed away from me. He used the prop to get my attention as he did to scorn me when things didn't go his way, like a fumbling toddler. Guess what, bro? Joke's on you because it was from Forever 21 (I know, I hate myself).

When did guys and girls get so bad at handling rejection? I was an actual stranger to this guy. I could have rejected him for a number of reasons, most of which probably would have had nothing at all to do with him. Can't a girl be tired? Can't a girl have dignity? Can't a girl just go home to her Seamless order bookmark?

Learning to deal with rejection is a priceless, pivotal lesson we must confront in our 20s. Really, it should be confronted long before that, but if you don't have it down by now, now is the last opportunity to tackle it before becoming a lost cause forever.

The main trick to handling rejection is learning to be confident, but there's an even deeper secret to chip away at here. If you can remember that being rejected has probably 2 percent to do with you and 98 percent to do with external factors, how can you ever allow it to insult you?

Think about it: If you strike up a conversation with someone at the bar, it's probably a five-minute-long chat at most. What can that person really learn about you in those five minutes, anyway?

She's probably just trying to get back to her friends so she doesn't have to front cab fare on her own at the end of the night. Or, she just got over a breakup, death, bad day at work, whatever. It could be a number of different things, all of which trump a conversation with you lasting two minutes longer.

Sylvia Plath once said, “I love my rejection letters; they show me I try.” I was all about this guy who hit me up via my Nirvana shirt because he tried. I thought it was a bold and attractive move. He only ruined it for himself when he decided to throw a literal temper tantrum as soon as he was told “no.”

In a world that allows for and celebrates instant gratification (hello, Tinder!), are people really becoming so diluted that they think women owe them sex as soon as they shell out a measly $5 for a draft beer? Unfortunately, yes.

A similar situation occurred with a guy with whom I had actually gone on few dates: There were definitely some red flags I had noticed since we first met and we only made it through about two weeks of dating. Regardless, we began texting each other again after months of no contact.

When enough time passed, I began to think maybe I jumped the gun and shot him down without giving him a proper chance. Again, I had only positive feelings toward him. I remembered how cute and fun he was, and how we danced all night when we first met.

As we continued to text, he suggested coming to meet up with me, and I immediately had a bad feeling about it. I honestly and calmly told him I didn't think it was such a good idea and he freaked out.

Unable to hear the word “no,” he lashed out and said I was over-thinking everything. He literally texted the words, “How about you just go away now?”

This 30-something guy (see, past your 20s, it's a lost cause) instantly reverted to 3-year-old boy just because I didn't comply with his immediate wants.

If he had simply said, “Okay, wish you all the best,” we would have both been able to healthily break contact and feel good about ourselves. Instead, I'm left feeling like all guys in the world are equivalent to baby throw up, and he's probably spending another night alone wondering why “bitches are so crazy.”

To put it bluntly, so many guys don't realize how easy it is to actually hook up with women. Upon offering respect, having fun and being cool and confident, you have a way better chance at taking a girl home than you do by screaming at her when you don't get your way.

If I said no to a guy and he smiled and said, “That's cool,” I might actually reconsider it. I'd probably be on the floor in shock, but I'd definitely allow him to order a few whiskey sours to bring me back to life.

Guys, how attractive would a girl be if you said no to her and she kept her cool? Girls are probably way less used to hearing the word than guys are, and a true confident lady will be able to take the word “no” – whether it be to snapping a picture for her and her friends or to going on a date – and laugh you off because she knows better.

Wouldn't you be more interested in the girl who could take things in stride over the girl who pouts for the next half hour? It's a two-way street.

Twenty-somethings need to realize that “no” is not generally a personal low blow. You should reward yourself for being one of the few people left who has balls to try for something new and be brave enough to go after what you want — regardless of the outcome.

If that's not a great excuse to walk away from the guy or girl at the bar who denied you and order yourself a pickle-back with pride, I don't know what is.

You not only survived growing up with awful, barely-there parents, but you also just survived another night soldiering the war zone that is the Millennial dating scene. Bottoms up.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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Brittany Leitner

Manager

Brittany is a San Antonio, Texas native, and holds a degree in magazine journalism and English from Syracuse University. She has been published in Time Out New York in addition to Elite Daily, where she currently works as a senior editor.
Brittany is a San Antonio, Texas native, and holds a degree in magazine journalism and English from Syracuse University. She has been published in Time Out New York in addition to Elite Daily, where she currently works as a senior editor.

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