It is devastating enough when it is unexpected. But even when you know it’s coming, in the most pessimistic depths of your heart, when it comes, when the person who holds your fortunes in his hand (whether he knows it or not) delivers the bad news – brutally or kindly or subtly, it does not matter – you are jolted out of your very existence.
You may say, for appearances’ sake, that ‘I tried and I failed; but at least I tried.’ Or that ‘failure is a stepping stone to success.’ Or that some great scientist ‘had failed nine thousand times before he discovered the light bulb’. You utter all that crap (and then some) that you hear daily. None of it helps. The fact of the matter is that you’re rejected. To add insult to injury, you hear that someone else was selected. Why was she chosen whereas I was not?
Was I not ‘hard-working’, ‘a good learner’, ‘dedicated’, ‘promising’? Was I not good enough?
As Owen Wilson says when Reese Witherspoon leaves him for someone else (and describes Owen as a ‘great, funny, amazing guy’), “all the hot words.”
Rejection is rejection, however eloquently it is delivered.
The blow doesn’t land right away, though. The numbness stays for a while. By then you start believing that you are immune to it, that you have taken it so well despite it being so inhuman and unfair. Then it hits, like thunder gradually following lightning. Much of the beating is taken by your self-confidence.
Once it happens, it is hard to shake it off. It just stays with you forever. Even when some day, you have found your own little successes.