“Will you go ask him if he likes me?” I asked my elementary-aged best friend.
She ran across the playground in a full-sprint to the “hottest” guy in our grade.
I couldn’t tell what was happening, but he awkwardly looked at me and gave me a small smile.
Moments later, she turned around and starting running toward me again.
“He said he likes you!” She said.
MY HEART BURST! COULD THIS BE MY FIRST BOYFRIEND!?
“But only as a friend,” she said after she caught her breathe.
Then my heart sank.
Well, better friends than nothing, I reminded myself and then vowed to never talk to him again out of pure embarrassment.
That’s the first time I really remember being rejected.
There were a series of other rejections that took place through middle school, which are years of awkwardness that I would never wish upon anyone.
Those awful middle school years filled with moments of rejection taught me the importance of acceptance. I learned the power of loving and believing in someone for who they truly are – without judgment.
The second major time I remember being rejected was in high school. I was trying out for the high school softball team. I had spent many summers playing softball.
Check out those sweet hot pink shorts and my blonde hair!
In fact, ONE summer I made the all-stars team, which was one of the proudest moments of my 10-year-old life.
I realized quickly I was outside of my league during the try-outs. I wanted to give up and stop going to try-outs, but my mom reminded me that quitting isn’t an option.
“You don’t quit something you start,” she told me. “Keep trying and you may surprise yourself!”
I was so mad at the time.
But today, I am so incredibly thankful for the “never quit” mentality that my mom taught me. She is the reason I understand the importance of never giving up!
Finally the day came when we found out if we made the team or not.
To be honest, I thought I had it in the bag. From what I recall, they NEVER cut anyone. Trying out was just a formality.
I sat in a private office with the head coach.
She smiled at me, but I sensed something was off.
“Ashley, we just love you,” she said.
“Thank you,” I said nervously. “I love the team.”
“We think you have a lot of heart and your energy is contagious,” she said. “But we have decided to cut you this year. You have some improvements to make in your batting and fielding.”
I don’t really remember what I said.
I probably thanked her and then walked out with tears in my eyes.
“I didn’t make the team,” I told my best friend, Kelly.
She hugged me and probably said something cute and nice.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I committed to try out for the track team the next day.
That’s the first time I really realized the power of rejection.
Getting rejected taught me to move on.
Being cut from the softball team taught me that there would be something better ahead for me.
I spent the next two years on the track team where I got countless blue ribbons for first place and made it to semi-state for disc! I also made friendships that lasted me a lifetime!
Rejection is a pretty powerful learning lesson, especially if you can open your eyes to what’s ahead.
The other day, I dropped off Cooper at his preschool.
He walked in nervously, but didn’t cry. He walked in quietly and watched the children play from afar.
Does he feel rejected here? I asked myself.
“Does he just stand there or does he start to play with the kids?” I asked his teacher.
She smiled and her eyes brightened, “Oh yes!”
“He walks in and stands to the side of the room,” she said. “Then he walks around to make sure every kid has someone to play with. And throughout the day, he will play with different groups of kids so no one is left out. We call him our social butterfly.”
I walked to my car and tears filled my eyes. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and joy.
I can only hope that Cooper continues to accept others and be aware of others who feel rejected or alone. It’s an amazing gift. I’m in awe of him for having such compassion for other people at such a young age.
I know that I’m not always the perfect parent. I get upset. I yell. I lock myself in the bathroom to escape toddler meltdowns. It’s not always butterflies and rainbows.
But moments like that prove that you don’t have to be perfect to be a great parent.
You just have to be present.
You have to accept others for who they are and show love daily.