The dumber the mistake, the higher you bounce to a better understanding of self
“And when you face rejection, the amount of information that you have to trash in the “move-on” phase also increases with time.”
Think of it algebraically; you are at zero, making mistakes pulls you towards negative infinity and self-improvement is a headstart in the positive direction.
Magnitude is more natural to visualise this way. The same thing happened with me in two experiences where I thought “She is the one” and made efforts to set my place.
The urge to convince someone about your feelings grows stronger with time, and so does the fear of rejection too.
Same goes for any emotion-driven decision because as you grow, you make more informed decisions. And when you face rejection, the amount of information that you have to dump in the “move-on” phase also increases with time.
The first time was in college.
“Taking full responsibility of where things went wrong provides room for improvement.”
In the first semester itself, there was this peer pressure like who is the coolest guy in the group. Every group has their definition of “cool”. One group will consider the physically fittest person to be cool; another will find the funniest person to be the coolest.
Then there is this group of people who start talking about relationship and you (the single guy) avoid the discussion just like you ignore the professor when he asks you a question, and he gets in your way of making memes. You and your priorities!
The discussion about relationships never really bothered me. Still, when the environment has such talks, you have no option but to scram if you are single and are struggling at making meaningful relationships.
I also had a crush on a girl back in college, I didn’t know how strong the feeling was, but it was enough to push me halfway, through the college, to the girl’s hostel, on a friend’s bicycle, at a motorcycle speed, to park at a restricted area, and talk to her. It was my first time confessing to someone, and based on the number of commas in the previous sentence, you will believe me if I say my heart was playing hula-hoop!
She told me she would think about it and tell me later. A few days later, when she wanted to say her perspective, I was busy in-game. I was hosting a live game at a local server on our campus. If I left, my team would be out-numbered, and if the entire match would have finished without me, then they will furiously wait for me to host the next game because I was the host and couldn’t leave.
I was a staunch gamer back then. Not professional, but dedicated. I miss those days. It gave me some friends for life.
Anyhow, I went AFK (away from keyboard). I chose to talk to her on a friend’s computer, and after a few minutes of discourse, she rejected me. Now when I think of why she refused, I take full responsibility of where things went wrong. The repercussions were negative, and I never talked to her the same way I spoke before.
The second time was in the workplace.
The first time I put effort was in 2016 May, after freshmen year finished, and everyone was going home for summer vacation. But not just yet, our last exam was on 1st May, and we had to wait till 7th May to see the answer scripts.
The second was this year in February. Hail the month of roses! It is good that you are the shortest month and pass quickly.
As I mentioned above, the feelings get stronger with time, and the amount of effort you put in a one-sided relationship makes it harder for you to move on after rejection.
Rejection hit me hard this second time. Because this time, it was not just a crush. It was love, and I think she already knew on some level based on my behaviour around her. I put so much effort in knowing her, telling her about me, spending time with her and finally after four months of interaction, when I confirmed that her decision is “No” again, I chose the most straightforward option to get over her. Never see her again.
It was harder initially, but that’s what I did, that was what in my control. It was hard because when I proposed this time, I got “yes” vibe from and fixated on that till Valentine’s Day. I got lost in my own, and a little less futuristic, version of Ali’s fantasies (Uday Chopra from Dhoom series).
Then after some discussion on 14th Feb, I got the definite answer: “No”. I mean, four months is still not a short time if all you have are meaningful discussions about life and personal experiences. Yes, sometimes I bonded with her on this level. I wish I could still talk to her the same way. But things are different now.
I am not planning to compromise my emotional intelligence again.
These two rejections changed my perspective about relationships. The first rejection just made me more conscious about my life decisions. I mentioned that I left a game to talk to her. And when I received “No” from her, I straight up wanted to rock in whatever the next work I was going to absorb myself in.
That’s what I did. I went back in-game and was on the top of the leader board for a few consecutive matches. FYI, the game was Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
I mean I was continuously taking headshots in some rounds, clutches in some, and all the game time I was silent. When my teammates asked why I was quiet, I just said, “Let me concentrate for team sake!”. A little late to say that sentence again. Wow! I was not this much motivated when I first started preparing for engineering entrance exams also.
After the second rejection, it was difficult because I had to see her every day and pretend nothing happened. That’s what she said, “It’s OK. We can forget everything and get back to where we were.” It was easier for her because she did not know I would say this and our entire relationship would change. We are not even friends anymore, at least not from my end. I was neurotic around her for a few days.
But this is easier said than done. The amount of emotional effort flushed in pursuing someone also modifies your thoughtful response around that person. And the brain is hard to train; you know that.
Oxytocin hormone acts when you bond with someone socially. When you know you will no longer have the same feeling reciprocate; the oxytocin deprivation takes a significant toll on your mental health for some time. It makes moving on even harder in the initial days.
Just ask chronic smokers (who finally quit) how hard the initial nicotine withdrawal phase was, they will never forget. It directly hits your brain, and the memory remains strong.
I attempted only two times in my life, and now I am maxed out. My emotional tank might not pump any more for anyone now. I don’t know if I will put the same amount of effort in pursuing someone again because I am working on my career and health, and that is an ever-evolving massive challenge in itself.
I don’t want to waste my time thinking about something that will unexpectedly challenge my emotional intelligence, and affect my neural pathways too. I don’t know if it would be worth it.
I mean, you are focussing on yourself, and suddenly you go paranoid after talking to someone you think is the so-called “ONE”? Seriously, are you that gullible? What’s that? Huh…? Relationship goals are not this simple; they require time, care, trust, accountability and same kind of love for each other.
I don’t know if I will fixate on “yes” or “no” when I get similar vibes for someone in future, but I know this thing: when the right girl will come with all her natural glory and beauty, I will say, “I am married”.
This post belongs to a series of articles I am publishing in this 21-day streak. See the first one here. It is the sixth one in the lineup — 15 more to go.
To read the remaining ones, navigate to the end of the first article where there is a reference list ordered by day number.