I have thick skin. No, seriously. Medical professionals have told me repeatedly for the past few years that they have trouble taking blood and inserting cannulas because my skin is so damn thick, and my veins run deep. Every time they tell me this, I laugh. Because it may be true in the physical sense but figuratively, emotionally speaking... my skin is thin as tissue paper. 

(Photo: Erin Veness)

Wanna know what tears at my allegedly thick skin the most? Being left behind. I live in constant fear of being left out, forgotten...rejected. 

A fear of rejection is something most people have, and really I have got myself onto the wrong career route (lol, more like a wonky footpath through the woods made by drunk idiots stomping down long grass) if that's what I am most afraid of. The majority of writers are faced with seemingly endless rejection letters - oh wait, I guess these days it's more often emails? geezz Grace, get with the times - and dismissals when they pitch and submit and poke and prod publications and publishers, daily. I am going into this field with my eyes wide open, knowing that it's more than a sad possibility; it's a devastating certainty. I'm building myself up to be torn down many times, no doubt for many years, before I finally get a green light and a GO sign (ughh, yes, I know I should really work on my mixed metaphors problem or my writing will be rejected forever). 

But actually, job-related rejection I can deal with... mostly. It's the personal rejections that really get to me.

(Photo: Erin Veness)

I am sometimes crippled with the fear of friends turning to me one day, after too many gins perhaps, and telling me they're done and wanna cut ties. I hate the risk of splitting, breaking, fighting, ghosting when I dive into the dating pool, to the point that I'll ignore messages on socials from crushes because I'm too scared to even flirt, knowing there's a chance that someday we'll unfriend and unfollow each other, having argued one too many times about who ate all the biscuits (me), who puts the toilet paper roll the right way round (me, again) or whose parents we're spending Christmas with (mine). 

A couple of years ago, some time after my last long term relationship ended, I kept finding myself getting crushes on people I specifically couldn't have relationships with. I'd consult with friends (and Mama) and they all said immediately that the reason for my very misled romantic interests was quite simply that as long as I liked someone I 'couldn't have', there was no need for me to make any effort pursuing them and there was precisely 0 risk of rejection, because I'd never go after them in the first place. Fortunately that period didn't last long, but it was shocking how my mind worked so hard back then to avoid any potential upset. 

(Photo: Erin Veness)

Not too long ago, I was at a fabulously fancy bookish event in London. I was chattering with blogger friends, excitedly approaching authors, being recognised by those in the book business and even engaging celebs in conversation (I blame the endless champagne refills for the latter). I was in my element; I felt totally welcome and actually almost popular, despite not trying to be anyone but me, in all my book geekery. 

However, when I left the super-chic venue (with, I suspect, about two bottles of champagne inside me), I found my electric, excited energy fading fast as I boarded the train bound for home. I was suddenly overcome with a need to understand why it was that I could be completely accepted and sort-of celebrated in one area of my life, and yet there were still people back home or dotted around the world who didn't feel I was worth their time, or interest. And so the drunk messaging began - to the friends who'd deserted me, the boy who bailed on me, the coward who ghosted me. I never got round to sending messages to my bullying ex-colleagues, because fortunately (for them) one of the aforementioned replied. They kept me busy for a good half hour, during which I practically threw questions at them, demanding to know why I wasn't enough for them, why they just abruptly stopped bothering - if there was anything I could have done to make them like me more, and want to keep me in their life. Then after a few 'seen - no reply' moments and half-hearted apologies, I slumped sleepily in my seat on the train with mascara smeared down my cheeks and a half-empty mini bottle of M&S white in my hand. Good old Dad later fetched me from the station at gone midnight, hugging me while I cried on him; exhausted, emotionally and physically. 

(Photo: Erin Veness)

The next morning, I sat up in bed and checked my sent messages (as one does, very bravely, while suffering a hellish hangover), drank a cup of green tea, and swore to myself I'd never get that low about rejection ever again. I can't say I've kept that little personal promise, but I'm definitely trying harder these days. 

Because the truth is, not everybody is going to like you. Not everybody will want to follow or friend you. And at the end of the day, that's okay. They say you've got to let it go, and accept that you're not going to please everyone - that was the hardest thing for me to get my head around, as I'd spent years hurting myself trying. 

Sometimes, the cheesiest way of saying it is the best. Rejection happens, and for most of us it will happen many times, over and over, and it will feel like it's never going to end. But I think the best way to cope with it, and stay strong when it seems your whole life is brimming with bad energy and you're barely staying afloat in the sea of sh*t, is to be enough for yourself, and let others join you in loving you if they wish to. 


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