10 years ago, Mary (not real name) was involved in a bad accident that left her face deformed, and her whole body with scars. When she went back to work after healing, her boss asked her to stay home with the promise that she would be called back. As days became weeks and weeks became months, Mary started to lose hope. All her calls to ask when to return to work got the same response, ‘we will call you’. She couldn’t help but consider that as the front desk officer she was, her manager didn’t find her ‘appealing’ anymore after the accident, and instead of firing her from the word go, he resorted to giving her false hope. She tried to look for another job but no one would hire her, because they were more concerned about her appearance than her experience. Fear of rejection is real, because whether we admit or not, it is upsetting, and it can be anything; turned down by a crush, denied a work promotion, not hired for a job, and so much more. It might be accompanied by confusion, or sadness or anger, but regardless of which emotion you most relate to, it is a feeling all of us will be familiar with at some point in our lives. Rejection creates emotional pain, averts most people from taking risks, and yet sometimes success is obtained from taking risks. Experts explain that emotional rejection is the feeling a person experiences when disappointed about not achieving something desired. This can be in romantic relationships, social groups, and professional settings. Interpersonal rejection is defined as one of the distressing events that people experience, for instance, rejection by a loved one, a romantic relationship, stigmatisation, job termination, and so forth. Irene Gakumba, a counsellor, says that rejected people experience disappointment, sadness, depression, and anxiety. She explains that some people may even adapt to rejection at an early age due to the things they were exposed to emotionally and physically. For instance, if you felt rejected as a child, chances are you will feel rejected even as an adult. Gakumba says that people who don’t feel loved struggle to love themselves and have low self-esteem that pushes away even those who try to get close to them. Some people find themselves in a place of rejection as they try to fit in—they then pretend to be what they are not to seek approval—in the process, they lose themselves and end up discontented. “The good news is that you can feel better after a rejection by allowing yourself to feel and process the pain instead of holding in negative emotions or ignoring the pain,” Gakumba says. According to Lilliane Mutesi, an accountant, everyone has experienced rejection at a certain point in their lives, perhaps financially, career-wise, and in relationships, but one thing that she has found helpful is surrounding herself with people who love her. She notes that you need to be around people who love and believe in you, that even when everything is crumbling, they still believe in you and support you in all aspects. Negativity is the last thing you need in such times, she says. Mutesi says that to cope with rejection, one has to learn to love themselves and focus their attention on their successes and accomplishments rather than failures. She believes that once you have accepted yourself for who you are, you can organise yourself for anything that may come your way, but to completely move forward, forgive people who hurt or rejected you. She also adds that rejection should be seen as a means to grow, for instance, if the person you wanted to date rejected you, work on yourself to attract the right partner, someone you would have the same values with. “Rejection fears can have long-lasting effects, including preventing you from going after big opportunities at school or work. It’s possible to overcome rejection fears on your own, but professional support is sometimes beneficial. It may be time to consider reaching out to a therapist if your fear of rejection leads to anxiety or panic attacks, keeps you from things that you want to do, and causes distress in your daily life,” states Healthline.