Mean girls and the fear of rejection

fear of rejection

My first group of college friends rejected me. Specifically, my roommate decided she didn’t want to be friends with the same people, and told me as much when I finally asked why she ignored me in groups and purposely excluded me. She said these were her friends, and that I’d somehow intruded without invitation.

To me, it seemed like we’d all met in the dorm our first week of college. I thought for sure it was only she who felt this way, but none of the other girls really sought my friendship when I dropped out of the group outings.

Writing about this now, it feels so petty. At the time, though, the rejection crushed me. I felt abandoned and alone, yet forced to live in a cardboard box of a room with the person who’d rejected me.

I tell this story as an entry point into one type of fear that can define our relationships: the fear of rejection.

Maybe you’ve experienced rejection of the mean girls variety like me, or maybe in a romantic relationship or your family.

Rejection is so supremely painful because it punctures our greatest emotional need – to be loved and accepted.

When we’ve been rejected, we tend to build protection to keep us from feeling that pain again. The problem is that what protects us from rejection can also stand in the way of intimacy and genuine love.

The aftershock from that college experience still shakes my friendships, sometimes. I have a hard time believing that people genuinely like me and are my friends, that they aren’t including me out of politeness or obligation.

I worry about being too much, coming on too strong, intruding where I’m not wanted. I get a little twitchy and a lot insecure when I hear about a group of friends getting together without me. Because one time, being left out of group invitations meant “we don’t like you,” it’s difficult for me to process those instances differently.

The fear of rejection is one of the ways that our relationships can be defined by fear instead of love. What does it look like to overcome that fear, and walk in love, instead?

It’s not an easy answer, but here’s what we have to do: we have to choose to love fully even though it means opening ourselves to rejection.

Loving people means we might rejected, and we love them anyway.

We can protect ourselves behind our walls and refuse to let people in, and we might not be rejected, but we won’t be loved, either.

How has the fear or rejection affected your relationships?

This post is part of a 31 day series on love over fear in relationships. To read the other posts in this series, head here.

14 thoughts on “Mean girls and the fear of rejection

  1. What a lovely reflection. Found your post via the #write31days hashtag. I think it is brave to move through the fear, but you are right: it has to be done. :-) I have feared rejection based on not having a nice enough home (decorated nicely, lack of dining chairs, etc.); so, I don’t have anyone over. That is slowly changing. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh man, I’ve harbored SO much fear about how others will perceive my home. Have you read Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine? She shares the most beautiful thoughts on inviting people in, even when we feel like we’re a mess.

  2. This is SO true. The fear of rejection, or just simply of getting hurt again, keeps me from receiving love. I once felt like I had a turtle shell on my back and all the love my husband was pouring onto me was just running off of my shell because I was too afraid that he’d hurt/disappoint/let me down again. Once I was willing to be open the love and the hurt I felt so much more loved.

  3. Oh friend. This breaks my heart. It’s probably a wrong reaction, but I want to punch your roommate :) I think my fear of rejection comes with having my children at meetings, in church pews, on airplanes, etc… I have felt unwelcome and unwanted with my brood of kids so I tend to just avoid those situations – and then usually miss out on great fellowship and worship times as a result. xoxo.

    1. hahaha, I love you! That is such sad news that you’ve felt unwelcome with your (sweet) little ones. I hope you find open arms to welcome ALL of you with love. They’re out there :)

  4. I have such specific memories of rejection, mostly as a child and teen. Things have looked different as an adult, but it’s still so easy to decide that friends do not actually care.

  5. Oh man, Jace, I remember how hard that was for you. It was definitely real, hurt feelings and doesn’t sound petty at all. Yes, rejection is a huge fear that I too have. Making friends as an adult, I still find those feelings creeping up in my mind. I have to consciously fight them out of my mind and remind myself that if I don’t put myself out there then I will never make any new friends. I figure as long as I am sincere and genuine, I am bound to find a connection with someone. However, exposing those intimate parts of ourselves to people we hardly know is the most difficult. Will they reciprocate the intimate and vulnerable stories or will they judge me for exposing my most vulnerable self? Sometimes I think that I can be the own mean girl in my head to myself. Will I encourage myself enough with self talk and remind myself of all the good things that I have to offer, or will I tear myself down to make myself feel like I am not interesting? Such an interesting topic. Thank for making me think and encourage myself Jacey!

    1. I am so grateful to have had a friend like you in the face of that rough situation! You have so much to offer friends new and old :)

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