Ever been shamed, side-lined, rejected or removed?
Then you may have an idea of how it felt to be Andrea.
In her first year in high school, Andrea was a normal girl. By normal, I mean she was herself- she walked, talked, dressed the way she wanted, without trying to impress or become like anyone.
But all that changed when the herd came.
We all know the herd. A group of people in a school, office, community or country, that dress, act, talk and think the same way- rejecting anyone who’s different from them. Each sheep in the herd is so busy keeping up with the trends in the herd, so he’s not rejected.
The herd in Andrea’s case was most of the girls in year 7 scarlet hostel. They bullied, intimated and mocked her right from her first day in school, because she was different. For the next six years Andrea tried hard to become like them, and changed herself in the process; but it was never enough for these girls.
By her final year, she was emotionally damaged, depressed, struggling with a terribly low self esteem and suicidal.
Sad story, right? But rejection doesn’t always have to lead downhill.
Reminds me of the story of Joseph, of ancient Egypt. Rejected by the herd of his brothers, he found his destiny, rising to become the prime minister of one of the greatest kingdoms ever- a feat he will never have achieved if his brothers had accepted him.
Sometimes, rejection is the gift that gives us the liberty to (in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche) “become who we are.”
Sometimes, it’s in the silence of separation we find ourselves, our gifts glow in the recesses of rejection and our purpose is revealed in the darkness of abandonment.
Because, rejection by the herd gives us the opportunity to truly see ourselves, for the first time, for who we really are, and not through the eyes of others.
Separation from the herd, strips off the burden of constantly trying to meet up with standards of what or who is “cool”, “trending” or “acceptable”. And for the first time we can be unashamed to be who we really are and not whom the herd wants us to be.
Rejection, if properly handled, can be our ticket out of a life of nothingness; the nothingness of a life ruled by the fear of being rejected by the herd- a life relegated to being like everyone else.
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