I’d rather be rejected for who I am than accepted for who I’m not

September 13, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog, Leadership

I’ve written before about on opening up, allowing yourself to be vulnerable in business and personal relationships, and the risks involved, mainly to your emotions.

Probably the most important one was on my experience that choosing to care about something and to act on that caring means you’ll hurt. And the more you care the more you risk getting hurt. I wrote that post, “Leadership, personal development, choosing to care, and emotional pain,” on leadership and professional relationships, but you can probably tell the pain of a personal relationship prompted me writing it.

I wrote about how horrible I consider small-talk in a potentially productive relationship, especially when you first meet someone in “How to stop boring everyone you meet.” Sure, small talk helps in an elevator with someone you’ll only talk to for a couple minutes or situations like that, but with people you have the potential to form meaningful relationships with, talking about the weather and sports kills that potential.

I also wrote about the risks of opening up first about one’s vulnerabilities in a relationship, “Vulnerability and opening up first,” and my finding the risks worth it, despite getting hurt sometimes.

These topics come up with friends and clients a lot. I found a phrase that comes up in those conversations useful enough to title this post with:

I’d rather be rejected for who I am than accepted for who I’m not.

I didn’t always feel this way.

When you talk about the weather and current events, you hold back things about yourself that others could reject you for, but you also hold back what they could like you for. People who do mindless small-talk to keep others from judging them also keep others from getting to know them.

I came to realize I’d rather people judge me for my choices and identity than hold on to meaningless relationships where nobody rejects me because nobody rejects me. There’s a great word — milquetoast — to describe people and relationships like that.

milque·toast [milk-tohst]
noun ( sometimes initial capital letter ): a very timid, unassertive, spineless person, especially one who is easily dominated or intimidated: a milquetoast who’s afraid to ask for a raise.

I’ve lived like that and I don’t have time to live that way ever again.

I’d rather be rejected for who I am than accepted for who I’m not.


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