Photo Courtesy of: Jamie Kathleen Haughaboo
There is something about being told no that can leave us feeling depleted.
When you have what you consider to be a bright idea and present it to someone only for then to inform you that they don’t think your idea is any good, it has the potential to stop many of us dead in our tracks.
Especially if we view the person as an authority on the subject matter.
There no can cause us to think that we don’t have what it takes to stand toe to toe with others or to be seated at the table with those who are at the place where we are so eagerly would like to pull up a chair.
But then we hear stories of people who were told no several times and then they finally hear that one yes that affirmed them.
There are always rumors of people who go from the bottom to the top, but those people are far and few between.
Nevertheless, those people give us hope.
But as I think of those people, I also think how can I be certain that I have what it takes to make it to the top?
I mean for all the people I hear of who made it, I know hundreds more who didn’t.
So am I one of the few people who will make it or am I one of the hundreds of people who will give up.
The truth is I don’t know. But I am going to die trying to achieve better.
I have to.
I owe it to myself to keep trying.
Because giving up on my dreams simply doesn’t work for me.
If I die a dreamer, I die a dreamer.
For, I would rather die a dreamer than die hopeless.
I arrived at this conclusion after literally being rejected over a thousand times in one year in an attempt to achieve one of my dreams.
So the way I see it is that when it comes to being told no, I am a master. For surely, I myself have become all too familiar with hearing the word no.
It was about four years ago when I realized that when it comes to my life that I have to stop settling.
I didn’t know how to stop but I knew I had to stop.
I didn’t know that decision would lead me on a path to hearing no repeatedly.
I am not confident that had I known from the beginning how hard this road would have been that I would have journeyed it.
It seems as if my whole life fell apart after deciding that I had to love myself enough to no longer settle.
But as they say, sometimes when it seems things are falling apart they are really coming together.
For example, it was at the height of me hearing the word no that I began this blog.
Who would have thought hearing the word no an overwhelming number of times would have propelled me to begin a journey of finally realizing that I have to love myself?
To that I say thank God for no.
I give thanks to the word no despite the fact that there was a point when its utterance caused me to jettison myself down to rock bottom.
I felt like life was never going to get any better.
No, I take that back. I knew that life would get better, but I didn’t want to go through the process of waiting for it to get better.
I am all for the mountain top experiences but I didn’t feel like enduring the pain that it would take for me to finally reach the pinnacle.
I was like those people who try to lose 50 pounds in a month. I didn’t want to eat right and work out and lose the weight in a year or two… No I wanted success right now!
I was also making the mistake of thinking that no meant never.
There I was sulking, feeling pitiful for myself and telling my sob story to anyone who would listen to it.
I became someone I didn’t know and didn’t want to know.
I think in many ways I lost my mind.
I am glad I lost whatever it was, because I am now clearer than I have ever been in my entire life.
I can now clearly see that all that rejection was not a judgment on who I am as a person, but at the time old me couldn’t recognize that.
Old me failed to see that no one in this world can define me, but me.
I was in such a poor mental state that I thought that if I went out on a date and it wasn’t a match that it meant that I wasn’t good enough.
I failed to see the obvious – it simply meant that it wasn’t a match.
My self-esteem was in such a bad place that I didn’t know that I was supposed to be trying to see if the person was compatible with me, not if I was good enough for him.
If I went on a job interview and was declined an offer I thought it meant I wasn’t good enough for the position.
I didn’t know it meant that there was a position that was out there that would allow me to better utilize my education, skills and experience in a way that would allow me to excel and grow in a positive environment.
When people betrayed me and hurt me I thought that said something about me, I didn’t know it was a reflection of who they were.
I was unaware of the fact that I am in transition and while in transition I am simply learning who I am and who I am not. I am learning what I want and what I don’t want.
Now is not the time to give up, now is the time to push forward.
I have learned that the reason I am being told no isn’t because I am not good enough, I am being told no because I am in the preparation period of receiving what is best for me.
Hearing yes prematurely would ultimately cause me more harm than good.
I see that now. However, there was a time when hearing the word no made me feel like something was inherently wrong with me and that I would never get things right.
I thought my life was some sort of cosmic joke.
I had to get a grip on myself.
The pity party had to end.
Thankfully, I was surrounded by friends and family who were there for me and who helped me to make my way through my darkest hours.
I wish this was a blog about how I have reached my mountain top.
But the truth is that I haven’t even reached flat land.
I still am in the valley lows.
But the thing is that I am no longer in the doldrums.
I think there is a time and a place for everything and that our experiences are necessary for our ultimate expansion.
So while I don’t regret my time being stagnant, I must tell you that I celebrate the moment that something inside of me clicked and I decided to let each no empower me to keep looking.
The reason that I was in the doldrums was because I allowed myself to become paralyzed with fear.
I was in such a bad place that I let the idea of hearing no keep me from even trying.
I would sit there on my couch in fear of everything.
But some how I got off of that dat burn couch!
Now a closed-door has become a signal that I am being pointed in the right direction.
I know it seems cliché but I truly had to become thankful for closed doors.
I had to work to overcome my fear of having a door closed in my face.
There are times when I think ‘what will people think of me’.
But I have come to a place where I realize that people are going to think what they want to think and for the most part people are far too self-absorbed to give much thought about what is happening in my life.
So if I fall in front of the world and the world laughs at me, I know I will have fallen trying to climb the highest mountain and I find comfort in that.
I have yet to even come close to reaching the top of my mountain, but I won’t stop climbing.
My door hasn’t opened but I have had windows open left and right.
I know what it is to be scared.
But I have learned to make it moment by moment.
I know what it is to not know how I am going to make it or how I will have my needs met and yet those same situations caused me to learn not to live in fear because I have not lived a day with my needs unmet.
There are times when I have been afraid to have hope, because having hope always puts me at risk of being let down.
No one wants to experience the pain of disappointment.
But who was I kidding, I was already disappointed.
I had nothing to lose so I may as well have hope.
The way I see it is that if I die without fulfilling my dreams and I never see anything that I want materialize how is that much different from being negative and still not seeing it manifest?
I would rather try and fail than not try and always wonder.
Like I said I wish this was a success story blog, but I surmise that some how in many ways it is.
It is my story of how I decided that I can hear no until my dying die, but I am not going to allow that word to measure my worth.
People can continue to reject me and it’s okay because I accept me.
I accept me flaws and all.
I will continue working to improve myself.
Not because I am not good enough, but because as long as I have breath in my body I plan to continue to cultivate myself into something better than I was before.
Ultimately I am the greatest benefactor of my growth process.
So, people can continue to tell me no and that I am too much of this and not enough of that.
And I will still be here, still standing, still breathing and still mountain climbing.
If I die never having reached the top I am okay with that.
What I am not okay with is me dying without trying.
This isn’t a platitude without any substance for I can truly say that I am thankful for all the times I heard no.
It was in hearing no that I was saved from being in toxic relationships with people who did not mean me well.
It was in hearing no that I was rejected for employment positions that I thought I wanted but through redirection I was placed in the presence of amazing people who I don’t think I would have met otherwise.
I can genuinely say that those encounters were well worth the no, for the value of those encounters is priceless.
If I told you that hearing no that much was easy I would be a liar.
My truth is that I spent a lot of time on my couch as I became familiar with no.
I would think this is too hard. Nothing is working, I can’t get any traction.
I felt like a hamster on a wheel. I was doing a whole lot of moving but I wasn’t going anywhere.
I was upset because I made the mistake of thinking that those no’s meant I would never hear yes.
Also, I wanted someone to come and save me.
Ironically, I think what was most bewildering to me were the people who would come into my life and offer to help me without me asking for any assistance only for them to disappear from my life.
I would sit there confused wondering what was the point of them interrupting me just to leave?
I felt like God was mocking me.
I thought to myself, ‘I was doing just fine at making it the best I could only to have someone dangle hope in front of me for the sole purpose of snatching it away’.
But I have learned God was not mocking me.
Those people let me know that there was no one coming to save me, if I was going to make it, I was going to have to make it.
I recall at one point being so disillusioned I actually got upset at the idea that once I finally do make it that people would come into my life and want to be apart of it.
I thought ‘if you don’t want to be here when I am struggling then when I make it no new people better not show up!’.
I was mad at people who I don’t even know and who aren’t even apart of my story because they weren’t there for me when I felt like they should be. – Yep I was crazy.
And I was mad at people for not being who I wanted them to be for me.
There they were, being who they were and I was mad that they weren’t who they weren’t.
Quite frankly, I was just mad.
Thankfully, I came to my senses.
I am now at a place where I hold no ill will towards the people who promised to help but didn’t. Because truth be told they offered me a much-needed glimmer of hope.
I smile at the thought of the people who will come when I reach my mountain top because I now realize they couldn’t possibly be here for me now, because they are busy mountain climbing there own mountain.
And I forgive the people who couldn’t be who I wanted them to, because the truth is it was never their job to be anything more than who they are. I accept them for who they are and I thank them for being authentic.
I also am thankful for those people who are here with me right now while I am in my valley cheering me on.
But oddly enough I am especially thankful for the hope danglers. This is because when I reflect back it felt good having hope. They helped me to see that being hopeful made me happier than being negative, so why should I let hope go just because they walked away from the table?
This quest of mine is between me and the divine alone.
The reason that I haven’t heard yes isn’t because I am not good enough.
I haven’t heard yes because the time has not yet come.
I am not prepared for yes.
If yes came before I was ready then my dreams would surely crumble before me.
So what do I do in the meantime? – I enjoy the meantime.
Yep that’s right I enjoy the struggle.
I embrace the lessons, I learn through the tears and I trust the process.
I don’t like grief, heartache and depression, because they are painful.
But I learn far more through the hard times than I do during the good times.
Does it hurt me when my hopes are dashed? – Not like it used to.
Because now I realize that it is simply redirection and not rejection.
But you want to know what hurts more than having hopes dashed? – Being hopeless.
Truly, all these closed doors are simply helping to direct me to an understanding of what I do want and what I don’t want.
Hearing no, doesn’t mean you give up on your dream.
Hearing no, gives you redirection on how to achieve your dream.
When things fell apart for me I thought I knew what I wanted.
Now I realize that if I received what I thought I had wanted I would never have uncovered the beauty of who I am and begun to unearth my true potential.
Thank God for no. Because it was all those times I heard no that has helped me as I journey on my way up.
So don’t be afraid of no.
Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Nicole with appropriate specific direction to the original content.