My Serious Respect for Rejection


Here in the rasx() context, the word respect means “look again” and few people I’ve encountered are willing to look at their moments of rejection again. I am very understanding for people who were rejected as a child by members of their own family—especially one’s mother. I credit my mother for providing me the tensile strength to withstand rejection—I have no idea how one can thrive without this lack of strong motherhood. Nevertheless, the rejection apparently heaped upon me for most of my life has taken its toll and I’m told that Bryan, my given name, means “strong” in some Celtic tongue—but this does not mean that my person is indestructible. Rejection is of Biblical proportions. It is one of worst emotional things you can do to a child.

My claim with this little bit of writing is that I’m still strong enough—and adult enough—to look at rejection almost as an old friend. It appears in different forms and slowly reveals itself as a part of a structure that can be clearly described. Thriving with rejection, like living with failure, requires patience and researching concentration.

Preemptive Rejection

This is when you are rejected for fear of your rejection. You are fired before you quit. Researching this kind of rejection is easy when you know yourself. When you despise some situation you are in then you are ready to quit. You can be hurt by this kind of rejection when you take pride in your ability to conceal from others what you despise. I don’t have that many faces so I’m pretty much free from pain here.

What’s melancholy about this situation is when the preemptive striker assumes you are going to find their space unattractive. So they decide for you that you are going to reject them—so they reject you before you get your chance. A complicated waste…

Remember this classic: you get turned down because you are “overqualified”? I’ve been told that I “look like” I have a few “girlfriends” stashed away somewhere and Ms. Rejection does not want to be just another one of them. Or, worse, that I “look like” I’m married and this must be a wonderful woman because there is no way this Black man is self-made so well—and Ms. Rejection does not want to be a home-wrecker.

I used to think that this kind of rejection was from a ‘simple’ misunderstanding. But now, with more respect, I see that this is of a more complex architecture that features how people see others as liars and charlatans. The foundations of this building can be so deep that to “prove” them wrong is to merely reveal to them what they do not want to see: to grow up in a den of thieves means you will consistently accuse others of being a thief. I prefer to be in a relationship working in the present with a forward movement—instead of being stuck in such an impoverished past.

Interpersonal Symmetry

Rejecting out of Habit

Some people/institutions receive so many offers per day that they get into the non-conscious habit of rejection. Think of the fate of the unsolicited manuscript. Think of the fate of the guy that is so used to rejection that they attract the habitual impulse to reject from sleep-walking people so used to rejecting others. I’m that type of guy. I’ve been rejected for so long I often forget that I’m quite experienced, capable and qualified. I remember the time I walked out of a car dealership with a brand new car without paying any money down on a 0% interest loan. I was shocked—because I forgot that I’ve been spending years and years improving myself. Had the car dealer read all of the body-language cues that certainly were reeking out of me, he would have passed on a solid customer that has (so far) never missed a payment since the year 2006.

Rejecting “Perfectionism”

I’ve encountered people who claim to have respect for me yet they fundamentally reject me. Like a highly-educated nutritionist with terrible personal eating habits, these people are under the influence of a religious experience. I use the word religious to describe the kind of person that is essentially corrupt—and this state of corruption is what they call “realistic”—while my practice might be considered “idealistic” or “perfectionist.” These ideals are attractive but are ultimately regarded as impossible to realize—and because of this impossibility, it is “better” to do nothing coherent and run auto-pilot programs inherited from childhood.

I think there are a few very effective responses to this kind of rejection:

  • Think of the diabetic that has to take insulin because they know they might fall into a coma. The diabetic’s practice of “perfect” insulin leveling is clearly a necessity that requires continual effort. To regard this work as anything other than a responsible effort for a fact-based reality, is sadly barbaric.
  • It is an error to accept that “real” people are corrupt animals and we merely wrap ourselves in a thin veil of religious conviction to swaddle the inner animal.

Rejecting the Attractive

This is a combination of preemptive rejection and rejecting “perfectionism.” This kind rejection is typical between the closet creative that dreams of going public and is attracted to “established” artists. This kind of attraction is often fatal. What is important to understand is that this kind of rejection is a symbol of an internal struggle within the person doing all of this rejection. It’s not really personal.

Rejecting for Lack of Capacity

Sometimes the potential partner is rejecting you because there is no room for acceptance of anyone. One can misunderstand this kind of rejection—especially when the potential partner is unwilling to divulge this lack of capacity. From the outside some people/institutions look like vibrant, bustling enterprises just full of opportunities. But when you get inside…

Rejecting What Is Clearly Inferior

Hey sometimes I’m just not that great. The person rejecting me can clearly find someone else that’s better. Case closed. I’m hurt by this but I’ll get over it. My exalted claim is that I can truly relate to this kind of rejection. I’m not a child so I don’t need people hiding the fact that I might suck at something from me. I did not go to Hooray-for-Everything Summer Camp when I was a kid.

But there is a possible gray zone here: sometimes the vacant position remains open because the person cannot find an acceptable person. This is why patience is so important. Sometimes holding out for the right fit is the right thing to do. Sometimes one can get worried about their “high standards” and maybe one might “settle” for less… I can relate to this kind of worry…

Rejection by Conditional Acceptance

Many marriages are based on rejection by conditional acceptance. This deal simply stated is, “I accept you based on a certain set of conditions that currently don’t exist otherwise I reject you.” Stereotypically, it is usually the woman trying to change the man with the optimistic phrase, “I can change him!” To flip the stereotypical gender roles, all of my relationships that produced children were based on the optimistic phrase, “I can change her!” —which is super crazy… We need to have relationships with people in order to be healthy—not puppets.

The Impermanence of Rejection

Rarely… very, very rarely I am rejected by a person/institution that will accept me later on… I assume that this is rare because it is simply not the American way… There are many, many reasons why permanent rejection of a person (like me) is simply childish:

  • To find me utterly and completely useless forever is just ridiculous. I would like to think that the people within my sphere of daily interaction are of certain level of quality… I would like to think that I have the personal power to eliminate people from my daily interaction that are not of this level…
  • To assume that your active relationships will never end (including marriages, by the way) such that you don’t need to be contact with possible replacements is literally childish.
  • To assume that the person you are rejecting (me) will be so “hurt” by the rejection that no further contact is possible for all eternity is also very, very immature.

The Impermanence of Acceptance

In a vicious, childlike world, rejection is permanent but acceptance is not. Again, too many people call this shit “the real world.” The foundations of courage (which can be mistaken for stupidity) is to be completely unafraid of losing acceptance from the group. The ability to say, “Your group has rejected me. This means your group is a bunch of idiots,” is either idiotic itself or truly brave.

Rejection by conditional acceptance means that you were never accepted in the first place. Too many of the voices I’ve heard speaking of their lives confuse losing acceptance with not being accepted in the first place.

Relationships should be durable. The structure should be strong and have many redundant connections. The architecture of this building says, “I am willing to stay together.” When you truly lose acceptance this means you were warned at least three times that things fall apart. To be “suddenly” kicked out of something means you were barely tolerated.

Rejection for Level of Attainment

Rejection should be more frequent the higher you move “up” in whatever world of practice you are in—this includes I might add the “dating” world. I am very excited to get seriously considered and seriously turned down by some of the top luminaries in whatever field I’ve been playing over the years. At a certain level, any acceptance could mean a dramatic change in lifestyle—this includes the drama of intimate relations.

Rejection for Third-Party Influence

More than once I’ve been rejected because of third-party concerns. So you might want me but you know that your so-called friends/colleagues don’t. For the sake politics, I’m dumped. This stings but works out in the long run because you’ll eventually discover my lack of respect for adults who override their personal desires for superficial politics. It is important, vitally important, to understand that even a CEO of a multi-billion-dollar organization can build relationships based on an architecture drawn from blueprints scrawled out in crayon from childhood. Don’t let all of the wrinkles and trappings fool you: see through all of that.

The Educational Aspect of Rejection

To be told why you are rejected by a holistically professional person is truly a blessing. This data fuels future improvement. I consider this form of education quite rare—especially in my adult years. I strongly suspect that people simply are afraid of making enemies so they avoid telling all—or even just a little bit.

I find this reluctance to tell me why I’m not worthy very upsetting—it’s a lost opportunity to possibly learn something new about me.

Related Links

“Would I attend my own conference?” (@SarahM) and other links…

Sarah Milstein: “In a way, this isn’t a big surprise. It’s well-documented that women are underrepresented in the tech sector (if you’re not already up to speed, start with‘‘Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley’ by Claire Cain Miller, and do not miss‘‘The Men and No Women of Web 2.0 Boards’ by Kara Swisher). And it’s also well-documented that across sectors, women are underrepresented in senior roles—i.e., the sorts of positions that are likely to have stories to share at conferences. So, yeah, the population of female speakers we can draw on is smaller than the population of male speakers. But Expo generally has just 150–250 speakers total per show (and most conferences have fewer). Why can’t we find 75–125 women speakers?”

“Educated, Unemployed and Frustrated”

Matthew C. Klein via @Nikyatu: “Millions of college graduates in rich nations could tell similar stories. In Italy, Portugal and Spain, about one-fourth of college graduates under the age of 25 are unemployed. In the United States, the official unemployment rate for this group is 11.2 percent, but for college graduates 25 and over it is only 4.5 percent. ”

“Dropping my MVP”

David Woods: “MS states how they have these ‘experts’ in the community and that are involved in the products. While I have met some really smart MVPs I have also met some that are so out to lunch on things yet MS still considers them experts. To me this completely devalues the MVP program. I am definitely no exception to this. I am a MVP in developer security yet I don’t consider myself to be an expert. Interested yes. Expert no.”

“American students do poorly in science, report says”

Reuters: “The figures in the report cannot be easily compared with the past because students were assessed in a new way that includes advances in science and pedagogy, and to bring it in line with international standards.”

“Customers as Competitors”

Paul Schwartz: “I’m seeing an interesting trend in my client work. The metrics used to measure the health of customer relationships are declining, yet the companies have not really changed anything operationally. So how does one explain this disturbing trend?”

“Google confirms what we already knew about great managers”

Steve Arneson: “For starters, technical expertise ranked dead last on the list of desired management traits.  Which, Google admits, surprised them.”

“Feminism For Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism”

Latoya Peterson: “Our multi-talented homegirl Jessica Yee just edited and published her first anthology.  Called Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, Yee and her contributors (including myself and Andrea Plaid) keep it raw by illuminating the some of the issues people of color (particularly Indigenous people) encounter when entering feminist spaces.”

“Black Monsters/White Corpses: Kanye’s Racialized Gender Politics” and other links…

Latoya Peterson: “However, within the racial context, it’s designed to simultaneously play into America’s deepest fears and deepest needs at the same time: the fear of black men (in general) and their alleged desire for white women. I would think Kanye was playing into that idea consciously, and perhaps he is. But the segregation of treatment contributes to a final note, where Kanye is also upholding the ideals of white supremacy. Even in death, white women are worthy of love, tenderness, and a starring role in male fantasies. Brown women are relegated to the background, left to their own monstrous devices, shadow creatures performing their roles.”

“Mixing it up: Multiracialism redefines Asian American identity”

Jeff Yang: “To be accepted as Maori, you must be able to recount your ancestral line back up to an iwi—a tribe—and then beyond that, to the atua, the gods. You can be 1/1024th Maori by blood, but if you can speak the story of your family’s descent from the Earth Mother Papatuanuku to the present, you’re as Maori as anyone. It’s a viral rather than dilutive interpretation of race; a way of looking at identity as a story, of which each individual is a chapter.”

“‘Better Late Than Never’ Category: Rome, Carthage Finally Make Peace”

Reuters (1985): “The mayors of Rome and Carthage will sign a symbolic friendship and collaboration pact in a ceremony at the ruins of ancient Carthage, near modern Tunis, early next month, a spokesman for Rome’s Communist Mayor Ugo Vetere said Friday.”

“Next Time Halle Berry Should Invest in a Test Tube Daddy”

MoneyMama: “Things looked amicable when the two initially broke-up last year, some time after the birth of their daughter, Nahla. But now the two are slugging it out in the press, with Berry leading the charge. She claims she had to drop out of a film production in New York to fight for custody of Nahla and has accused Aubry of once calling her the ‘N-word.’”

“Tyler Perry Is Rich Now And He Can Do Whatever He Wants”

Danielle Belton: “There is the world, the one you and I live in, the normal world, where you have to stand in lines and go on auditions and sit through job interviews and you have to go through pointless first date after pointless first date to find the things you want and need in life. And then there’s the First Class world of those who have some comfort and can get good tables in restaurants you can’t afford and can take a nice vacation once a year with the second wife or husband. And THEN there’s the world Oprah and Dick Cheney live in.”

“BDD Primer—Behavior-Driven Development with SpecFlow and WatiN” and other links…

Brandon Satrom (via Scott Guthrie tweet): “Of course, a number of tools have been created to help you implement BDD in your development process. These include Cucumber in Ruby and SpecFlow and WatiN for the Microsoft .NET Framework. SpecFlow helps you write and execute specifications within Visual Studio, while WatiN enables you to drive the browser for automated end-to-end system testing.”

Post Sharp (Ayende Rahien)

PostSharp is an AOP framework that works using byte code weaving. That is, it re-writes your IL to add behaviors to it. From my point of view, it is like having the cake (interception, byte code weaving) and eating it (I haven’t even looked at the PostSharp source code, just used the binary release).”

“Azure Storage Explorer”

David Pallmann: “I’ve been wanting an easier way to view what’s in my Azure cloud storage so I decided to write a tool for the purpose. Azure Storage Explorer now exists and is available here on CodePlex.” I prefer this tool over CloudXplorer as it shows Table Storage.

“Cloud Innovators: Netflix Strategy Reflects Google Philosophy” (via John Lam tweet): “Adrian and other Cloud Innovators have proven that designing for cloud scale, means designing for failure and the same ‘always-on’ software architecture of an or Google, *not* something as simplistic as virtualizing your existing legacy enterprise applications and moving them over to someone else’s cloud. It’s going to take a while for the market to wake up to this principle and we’ll see lots of failures or as I like to say “blood on the floor” over the next few years.” Moment: Heroku

Heroku is an online Rack (and by extension, Ruby on Rails) cloud PaaS (Platform as a Service) run by the San Francisco, California based company with the same name. As one of the very first cloud platform as a service providers, Heroku has been in development since June 2007 and the company reports over 119,000 applications running on its service.”

@denisejacobs CSS Links

“Text Depth of Field Effect”

Sawyer Hollenshead: “Best viewed in a WebKit browser…” Uses the Web Font Loader

“Demo: CSS drop-shadows without images”

Nicolas Gallagher: “Using CSS pseudo-elements, box-shadows, and transforms to create drop-shadow effects without images from semantic HTML…”

“Checkerboard pattern with CSS3”

Lea Verou: “Webkit seems to have an odd rendering bug, so it needed a background-size override and it still doesn’t look perfect. Oh well, reported the bug and moved on.”

“Useful Web Services, Tools and Resources For Web Designers”

Smashing Magazine: “This tool is a bookmarklet that lets you turn any Web page into a wireframe with a single click. The bookmarklet helps you get rid of all distractions by blocking out copy, images and ads, letting you take a closer look at the website’s building blocks. Wirify is a useful tool that shows the balance of a website that the eye perceives only unconsciously.”

“CSS: Innovative Techniques and Practical Solutions”

Vitaly Friedman: “The main goal of the article is to present powerful new CSS techniques, encourage experimentation in the design community and push CSS forward. Please notice that we feature both experimental demos and practical techniques in this article.”

“CSS coding conventions”

Stoyan Stefanov: “The important thing to remember is—it’s not that important what exactly is a chosen standard or convention, the most important is that there is one. The rest, the details, is just common sense, and since ‘the common sense is not common to everybody’, pick whatever makes sense for you.”

“CSS organization tip 1: Flags”

Douglas Bowman: “I briefly touched on CSS organization a couple months ago. As a bit of background, if you’ve ever taken a look at any of my style sheets, you’ve probably noticed that I always divide them into key sections.”