My parents divorced when I was two and three quarters. My siblings and I would see my dad every other weekend. The problem was, as soon as he picked us up and started to drive to his place, something negative would happen in the car and he would turn the car around and take us back to mum’s place. He would dump us on the doorstep, as if we were a load of rubbish, and abandon us there. That’s the first time I really felt rejected. Was I not good enough for my father to spend the time with him? Today, after 30 years, thank Gd we have a good relationship.
It started as early as pre-school. I was rejected by some of the children. My response was to lash out and kick. I remember vividly having to stand on green paper, as if it were the meadows that horses graze in, because of my behaviour.
When I went to take entrance exams for private school, I was rejected from one school and on the waiting list for another. I was really quite happy about this, as I had my mind set on another school that had accepted me. When I went to secondary school, I lived on the Metropolitan Underground Line. I remember that we were told we must travel in groups for safety reasons, but again, the girls didn’t want to travel with me.
I was an outcast and felt very alone.
My friends, who were considerably older than I, would let me travel with them in the morning. However, they finished forty minutes after me, so in the afternoon I needed to travel with my age group. I hated it!
I felt all alone and didn’t feel a sense of security and personal safety. I had no one to travel with.
As a result, I would commute with people who ‘tolerated’ me, even going out of my way on the train, just so I didn’t need to travel on my own, all the way home.
They didn’t much like me, but they didn’t reject me.
Over the years, a few of those girls became my true friends and we are still close today.
The feeling of rejection penetrated deeply. I would mask the pain with sweets, chocolates and crisps, bought at various sweet shops, on the way to and from school.
Schoolmates joked that I was a ‘sweet shop’. As not to seem mean, I would share my treasures with them.
This too ended up biting me on the backside. The kids at school would tell me I was trying to buy their friendship. I wasn’t! I was taught to share. They would never had said the same thing to the skinny kid in our class, who bought junk to school and shared with everyone.
Whatever I did, or didn’t do, I felt like I could never win.
I then applied to go to Israel for a five month programme through school. My behaviour at school had been “problematic”, as a result of being bullied. My application was rejected.
I felt totally humiliated and gutted. I had my mind set on that school, which my mum didn’t want me to go to, in order that I could spend five months, in Israel. I was traumatised and retreated within myself.It was the worst feeling I had ever experienced. I was rejected, and there was nothing I could do to turn this around.
The feeling of rejection followed me most of my teens. When I think of how much time I dwelled on this feeling, it eats me up inside. I could have spent this time doing so much more. I could have been learning how to create a better life and how to imbue with happiness. The feeling of rejection is one of the hardest things to deal with.
When I was at University, I worked for a large corporation, in my third year. I had been interviewed and was offered that job, over the phone. I wasn’t the usual image of a slim, petite, university student. I had long blond hair, but because I was fat, it was always a sore point, as I had been called ‘lemon’ at school. I worked so hard in my job and went above and beyond, to prove my worth.
I remember when I first met my job-replacement, at the end of thirteen months, with the company. She had been interviewed in person. She was small and petite, with bleached blond hair, and obviously matched the image the organisation was looking for.
I once went for an interview, at a large fashion designer, in London, for a back-office analysis position. Having arrived early, I went to use the bathroom, which was on another level to the lobby. I used the lift. As I got in, I remember a slim woman staring me up and down. She didn’t stop until we reached out destination. It made me very uncomfortable.
I sat down to wait for my interviewer. I heard the lady, who had been in the lift with me, asking various people in the lobby if they were “Naomi Schogger”. I told her I was, and her facial expression was one of disgust. During the interview, she only asked me three questions and abruptly told me that the interview was over. I was more than capable of doing the job, but because all she cared about was outward appearances and not my skill set, she sent me away again. My body was rejected once more.
During the following months, recruitment agencies would call me, inviting me to go for interviews for that role, as they knew I’d be perfect for that position. I repeated my experience with that company, over and over again. They said that they would not be sending their candidates, because the position was not for a modelling job. I was glad I could prevent other candidates from feeling the way I had, but was sad that I had been rejected, because of my outward appearance.
I remember when I first moved to Israel, already with a job, someone told me that I would never find another job in Israel, looking the way I did. In her experience, companies only take in employees that they find attractive. This attitude absolutely shocked me. After all, I was looking to provide a service using my brain, not my looks.
Today, as an adult, I have found that one of the best ways to deal with rejection is to acknowledge my emotions around it. I understand that the person with the problem is not me, but rather the person doing the rejecting.
Another way I deal with this issue is to turn it into a learning experience. When I am rejected for anything, I thank myself for pushing past my comfort zone and I assess how I can do better next time. I treat myself more compassionately and now have initiated ‘I AM’ affirmations such as:-
I am Strong!
I am Worthy!
I am Enough!
Even if I do not believe it in the moment, the longer I say it to myself, the more likely I will eventually.
Today, rejection does not induce the fears and emotions that they did as a teenager. Now I know what I need to improve and exactly how to go about it!
Rejection is a great lesson in creating a mentally strong person. I now use rejection as a chance to move forward – with an abundance of wisdom.