The Other Side of Rejection
Have you ever failed to speak your deepest truth because of your fear of rejection? Has your heart ever called you to do something, but you failed to do it because you didn’t want to take the risk of being rejected? Whenever I feel the fear of rejection I think of my early professor Leo Buscaglia.
Leo was my graduate professor in 1970 at a prestigious university in California. Over his years of teaching he realized that the greatest need of students was being unmet by the university. He felt that until the students learned to love, they would never really be successful in their personal or professional lives. All on his own, without receiving any pay, he began to teach a class on love. Any student attending the university could attend this class for free. I was among a handful of students attending the first classes. It was wonderful!! The students loved the class and we were learning valuable life lessons.
As the class became more and more popular, Leo began to receive criticism from other faculty and the administration, who probably didn’t take his innovative idea seriously in the beginning. I was waiting outside his office one day when one of the top university administrators walked in to meet with him. I didn’t mean to listen in, but the conversation was so loud that those of us close by couldn’t help but hearing. The man was angry and among other things said, “Your class on love does not belong at this university and you are disgracing this institution. We used to be friends Leo, but your teaching this class forces me to distance myself from our friendship. I just can’t have anything more to do with you.” Some threats were made and the man walked angrily out of the office. All was silent.
Those of us sitting outside his door just didn’t know what to do. Worry for our beloved teacher showed on our faces. He must be feeling totally rejected and in pain. Finally I tentatively walked into his office. He was sitting quietly, looking sad. I got up my courage and asked him how he was feeling. His response caught me totally off guard, “I feel sad for my friend. He has rejected me and is going to miss out on all the love I have to give him. I am really a very nice person and a devoted friend, and he is going to miss out on all of that.” Leo’s pain was not for his own rejection, but for what this man would miss out.
Leo eventually moved his very popular love class to his own home, and several years later left the university. He wrote his first book, simply titled Love, which became an overnight bestseller. He was the only author in the history of the U.S. to have five books on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time. The country was hungry for his message. The man who rejected him truly lost out on a valuable experience to be his friend, which could have blessed his entire life.
I remember a time when I was rejected for speaking my truth. The rejection hurt very much. I kept going over and over in my mind my motives for sharing my truth, and each time I realized that I had come from my heart. This person refuses to be my friend anymore. Over the years I have come to the feeling that Leo was able to access right away. This person is missing out on so much, for I am a loving person and a good devoted friend. I could have enriched this person’s life. I no longer feel the personal pain of rejection, but the sadness for what my former friend is missing. I realized also from this experience that it is most important to speak one’s deepest truth and to follow the calling of our heart. As we do so we are filled with an inner power and conviction to give the precious gift that we came to earth to give.