Rejection; (n) the fear which rests on the desire for approval from other people
As every mother would love their children to get into the best schools in the town so her child can also “have classmates”, my mother was no exception. My mum was and is still more passionate about my education than I have ever or would ever be.
She taught me how to read at an early age, perhaps immediately I started talking. She would sit with me every evening after dinner and help me read out words or short novels. Whenever I travelled with her, she would let me sit by the window and read out every signboard we saw. By the time I started day nursery, I could construct full sentences in English without a blunder. I remember one time; I was about 2 years(oh yes I remember my childhood that much) when my elder sister picked me up from school one afternoon. As I was telling her about my day and how mosquitoes had bitten me, an onlooker overheard my conversation and asked my sister how old I was to be able to express myself in the way that I did. After pre-school or day nursery as it was called then, I had to move on to kindergarten and begin actual schooling. At this point, my mum had begun an application to the best school in the town. It was run by white nuns. The character of the children that school produced was impeccable. All of my mum’s women Aglow friends sent their children to that school and guess what, they all got accepted at the first try.
My mum was devastated. She had prepared me for this school. I knew how to read, write and express myself, probably better than some of the kids that got accepted. It was time to actually move on from day nursery. My mum made me stay at home for a while, still hoping she’ll get me into this school, but time and time again I got rejected. She decided it was not wise to send me to another school, because she was scared I was going to be polluted and when I finally get into this school, I would be below standard. However, I also couldn’t stay at home waiting on this school to accept me.
I remember one evening, as my mum plaited my hard afro-kinky hair(she was a hairdresser so she always made sure my hair was on-point), she spoke softly to me saying “Nana, “the school” did not accept to take you”. Confused, I asked why she said “Because we are not Catholics or know any strong Catholic to vouch for you”. Honestly, as a three year old girl. I couldn’t make much of it except the fact that I had been rejected. The school did not approve of our Christian denomination and knowing my mum was also a Reverend in this denomination made it worse for me.
My mum then told me she wants me to start schooling at another school for the time being, while she worked on the dream school. I did not want to go to this other school, and rightly so, the 3 years I spent in that school was hell. I had a teacher beating me up at the least provocation. I remember one afternoon, after lunch break I gathered my friends and taught them a song which my Sunday school teacher taught me that previous Sunday. This KG1 madam heard us singing on the playground asked all of us to assemble in class. She called me out and lashed me in front of the classmates I barely remember now. As she lashed me, these were her exact words “You’re bad girl. What bad song were you teaching them, bad girl. I will beat you till you cry today”. Mind you, she heard the song and knew it was a Sunday school song, besides I was 4, what vulgar song did I know or even understand. I was that child that would never cry when beaten, but that day, she lashed me until I wailed in pain. After which she told the class not to engage with me or play with me again else they would be lashed also, another rejection (tears are actually rolling down my face recounting this over 2 decades later). Every girl in the class was allowed to braid their hair, except me. She pestered my parents until my dad couldn’t take it any longer, he sent me to the barbers without my mum’s knowledge. I went to school that morning with my hair full, I came back home looking like a potato, all because I was rejected. This teacher did not approve of my being. The children in my class took what the madam told them seriously that they wouldn’t play with me, literally. I ate by myself, I sat on the swings alone. I was a loner.
One afternoon, we were all gathered on the playground after eating. The girls were playing so I joined them. Then one of them whom I remember till date, being the “Barbie” amongst other dolls asked us all to line up that she was coming to choose her friends. You guessed right, she chose everyone but me. Amongst about 10 girls, I was the only one who was not her friend. The other girls run off with her leaving me, alone, on the playground. I remember asking myself what was wrong with me? I sat down and cried till it was time to go back to class. Another rejection!
I never had friends in that school till my mum was finally able to get me admitted into the “dream school”. No one played with me. No one spoke with me till I left that school. And till date, I have no clue why my KG1 madam treated me like that. I have had no closure as to why no one wanted to play with me or be friends with me. Till date, even though I remember a few of them, I actually have no friends from that school, especially my own classmates. No I was not weird or awkward, I was a skinny black girl like most little girls. I know this because immediately I changed schools, I made friends, some lasting till date. I had teachers who loved me and took personal interest in my potential.
Dealing with rejection as an adult can be devastating and heart-wrenching, how much more a child. One way or the other, we have all been rejected before, supposedly from the people we earnestly seek approval from. It could be an approval for friendship, for love, for work, for family, for anything at all. Rejection has the tendency to let you question you, while seeing the other party as the answer. For instance, I questioned myself because these girls will not play with me. However, if they came back to play with me, boom! There lies my answer.
In the next few weeks, we will treat REJECTION! To say I know the way in which this would go is a lie, I just ask for the leading of the Holy Spirit and it is my prayer that at the end, we would be able to rise above rejection when it does come our way.
Also here’s what we’re going to do. Together with you, we are going to put together individual stories of rejection and how we overcame them or walked away from it without closure. Kindly send us an email with your story @ firstname.lastname@example.org or you can pm on facebook or Instagram. You have the right to remain anonymous. Common’ lets share.