Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Overcoming Rejection at Your Highest Self-Esteem

Q&A Wednesday: Overcoming Rejection at Your Highest Self-Esteem

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Recently, J wrote:

I don’t know if this has already been addressed but I’ve looked at many of your posts, which are all very inspiring and I can honestly say that I have gotten to a point where I’m losing the weight for me now and came to terms with the fact that I am beautiful, thin or not and that its all about training my mind more than my body to do what it takes to succeed in this journey. Proof of that is in my face, in my body, despite being still very much overweight, there’s more definition and lost in it than ever before, and even down to the way I talk now.

When people see me, they immediately look at me as if I have a glow and some even comment on how I am pretty but when rejection is still hitting you in the face everyday (career and relationship wise), despite having this acceptance and new found confidence, how do you overcome it?

Like for example, recently I was shut down by this guy because of my weight and its frustrating because I know if it wasn’t for that, he would go out with me. I get people have preferences but what I don’t get is if a sista is trying to lose the weight and you see this, why not give her a chance or at the very least just be friends until she does get to that point?

Granted I don’t believe you should lose the weight for a man/woman and I am certainly not losing it for him but at the same time I understand men who do base their dating preferences on weight because it is important long term…you want to see your significant other/spouse for a very long time…I get that. But what I don’t understand is shooting a girl down if she’s all about her health and moving towards being fit but most importantly spiritually and mentally together. But go after the ratchets who don’t have anything together, eat terribly, and don’t lift their babies let alone a dumbbell but somehow manage to have nice bodies or at least appealing bodies to the men that go after them which is the majority these days.

And what’s funny is these women 10, 15 years down the line through eating poorly, not working out and having babies look like what I am now or worse, where I was. Not trying to shoot these women down because we all have our own struggles we deal with but I am just frustrated with the generation of these men and their thinking that “bad bitches” are where its at.

Okay. Let’s look a little bit closer at self-esteem and confidence.

A book I read a little while back talks about the difference between the words “self-esteem” and “confidence,” identifying self-esteem as “the value you see yourself having in the world,” while seeing “confidence” as “a belief that you can succeed at something.”

Self-esteem is the value you think you have in the world; confidence is the belief that you can succeed. Share on X

Many people see the two as interchangeable and use them as such, but I think there’s a little more to it than that.

Confidence is generally ability-specific. I’m confident that I can sit down at my desk and write an essay that reflects how I think and feel each morning. I’m confident that I can go into my kitchen and cook something delicious. I am not, however, confident that I could, say, run a seven-minute mile. I’m also not confident in my ability to construct a home, or IKEA furniture for that matter, by myself. (Yes, I’m one of those people who resents instruction manuals and, because of this, I wind up with something more reminiscent of a staircase than the bookcase I originally bought.)

Self-esteem is an overarching understanding of your value in the world. My self-esteem is respectably high – I’m humble, but I know what I’m capable of and how I help my community, my family, and myself. I can always learn more, but I’m also willing to actually do that learning. For these reasons – and others – I am comfortable valuing myself highly.

One of the earliest lessons you learn in the world of sales, is that nothing sells like “fear.” (We could say that “sex” sells more, but I could safely argue that “sex” selling is also based on fear in many ways, as well.) Much of what we’re sold, and much of what we’re told, is centered around the fear that the outer world won’t value us as highly as we should value ourselves. Except… one of the saddest things I’ve learned, over years of listening and reading, is that the justifications we use to over- or under-value a person are rooted in misogyny, racism, sexism, colorism, sizeism, classism, and general purpose stupidity. And, because we all know this, we constantly question whether or not we are enough.

If he's the kind of man who would reject you for your size, he's not the one you want, sis. Trust me. Share on X

You mention how confident you’ve become in your appearance and learning to accept your body even as it is changing, but then you go into a story of a man rejecting you, and immediately assume it’s because of your size. Why? If there’s one thing I know, it’s that rejection is a blessing. If he’s the kind of man who would reject you for your size, he’s not the one you want supporting and encouraging you through your self-described weight loss journey, but you don’t seem to have enough information to make that determination. Either he was tactful enough to spare your feelings, or that wasn’t the real reason. This doesn’t sound like your problem – this sounds like his problem.

If he’s genuinely the kind of man who makes choices in this kind of way, he’s likely not the kind of person willing to provide you the support or empathy you need to have a successful and enjoyable journey. And yes, you have needs and are in a space where having a partner who wouldn’t attend to them could jeopardize your journey. (This is one of the reasons why I advocate against attempting to date in the middle of a weight loss journey – rejection puts you in a weird emotional space and screws with your ability to stabilize your self-esteem.)

Rejection shouldn't put you in a position to second-guess yourself! Share on X

Rejection shouldn’t put you in a position to second-guess yourself, and it certainly shouldn’t send you on a tirade against “ratchets” and their difficult and equally self-esteem-crushing challenges. You are who you are, you’ve survived the challenges you’ve overcome, and are now attempting to go in a new direction. Just like someone could judge you for where you are today, not knowing where you’ve been, we’ve gotta be cautious of doing the same to our fellow women who are in the same frustrating dating boat. If anything, shake your head at the fact that some of these women have men chasing behind them just because they have “nice bodies” instead of partners who care about who they are and are eager and willing to love them and their children.

Remember – empathy first, even for those who may appear to have it better than we do in one way or another. We never know what the other side of that coin looks like.

Ask yourself – do you want male arm candy, or do you want a partnership? A relationship? Genuine companionship? The world is full of users, losers, and tools – people who are eager to take advantage or take for granted, people who associate being used with being “useful.” Regardless of how fit you appear to be, you’d still have to sift through the coal to find the diamond. That fear that we’re never enough is seeping into your self-esteem and making you second-guess yourself, when it shouldn’t. You’re working on making yourself a better human being, you’re working on achieving your body goals, and you are already a person that someone will want – you just have to sift through all the people who don’t want the best of what you represent in order to find them.

That fear of not being *enough* for someone is overwhelming, and it screws with our self-esteem. Share on X

That fear of not being “enough” is overwhelming, and it screws with our self-esteem. It’s one thing to be confident in our beauty or our ability to lift something heavy or do our jobs well, but that fear of being “enough” – “enough” for what, well, that’s up to you – can shake, rattle, and roll our confidence right outta here. Being able to deal with rejection is about understanding that “I’m not what this person is interested in” doesn’t translate, in any way, into “I’m not what anyone needs.”

His “preferences” don’t matter, nor do anyone else’s, for that matter. All that matters is that you need to find the person who prefers you. Rejection doesn’t mean change who you are – you should be ever-changing, ever-evolving, anyway – rejection means “this person isn’t who I thought they were, and that’s okay.” To quote a great prophet, “on to the next one.” Keeping this in mind is how you handle rejection.

His *preferences* are irrelevant. All that matters is that you find the person who prefers YOU. Share on X

All in all, don’t shade the “ratchets,” don’t shame your confident and ever-growing self for not being “enough” for some person, and don’t take rejection personally. It’s a blessing. Take it from me: you are better served by working on getting “spiritually and mentally together” – the man you’re looking for is most likely the one in the same spaces as you, and just as invested in being “spiritually and mentally together,” too. And you want to wait for him, and not settle for less. Trust me.

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Rachel April 15, 2015 - 11:44 PM

Wow!! This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for writing so eloquently. I was dealing with being rejected this past week, and while I felt “ok” about it, something was bugging me, and I think that you have pinpointed it. I let myself be shaken, and made “his” problem, “my” problem, even though I didn’t even know what “his” problem was. “On to the next one”! 🙂 And again, really and truly…thank you.

Alaina April 16, 2015 - 7:16 PM

When is your book coming out? Seriously, you have the best advice and responses to questions out there. Thank you!

Erika Nicole Kendall April 17, 2015 - 10:41 PM

<3 <3 <3

Curvy CEO April 19, 2015 - 4:21 PM

Erika, how did you get to be so wise? Like for real?

I didn’t write this letter, but I could have…I, too, find myself spiraling into a shame cycle whenever I face rejection. And, let’s just say that I’ve been known to be rather hard on “the rachets.” *sigh* At the end of the day, we are ALL in this fight together – fighting to be better, to feel better, to be loved.

Thanks Chica! XO

Erika Nicole Kendall April 19, 2015 - 10:20 PM

Loooots of books help me fake it pretty well. I’ll take your compliment on behalf of all the authors that’ve taught me. <333

Carly September 9, 2015 - 11:59 AM

What books do you suggest? This battle against self and the world requires a whole heap of weapons.

Erika Nicole Kendall September 11, 2015 - 1:57 PM

This is a new post in and of itself. I’ll try to get it in tonight.

N April 20, 2015 - 10:41 AM

There were so many sentences here I wanted to bookmark as reminders. Often we ‘know’ these things, but experiences leave us feeling pained and exposed, forgetting the truth of who we are and the truth of our of our intrinsic worth. I can’t stress how wonderful and affirming it is to have found a self-compassion-centered space catering specifically to black women (since there are so many forces in the culture teaching us that we’re ‘not enough.’) Love the site, love you.


Marian September 8, 2015 - 12:58 AM

I ran across this as I was surfing through your sight and all of it’s thoughtful and we’ll articulated posts. This question and your kind response truly resonated with me in my current state. As I am just now in the beginning of losing a significant amount of weight and feeling more comfortable with myself, I’ve considered venturing out into the dating world. I was so glad to see your encouragement of not dating during this portion of my journey. You reminded me of my focus, ME.
I truly thank you!

Nini November 25, 2015 - 6:38 PM

This was just what I needed to see. I’m not looking to date. I’ve let that go. But what really got me was the difference between self-esteem and confidence. I am confident in many of my my abilities but I often have doubts of being good enough. So many things in life seem not to be linked to your abilities but your look, your position in society, or your wealth that it’s easy to doubt if you can make the cut. You’ve given a few tidbits to ponder. Thank you.

JC January 19, 2016 - 2:45 PM

I am just now reading this for the first time and everything you said is pretty much what I have been telling others as of late. As I said before in another one of your posts, it took me forever to get there, but now that I am here, I feel like this big veil of doom has been lifted and I can finally see the light.

Sometimes I wish I could have grasped that during the time I was going through that, but then I realize I wouldn’t have gotten to this point.

Thank you so much Erika for your advice. You are such a blessing to so many people and you have definitely influenced and helped shape me into a better person!

Felecia Watkins November 7, 2016 - 9:54 AM

I am screaming YES to you, Erica!!!!! I am in the position to be a very significant role model in the lives of so many young women and I preach this daily!!!! When I tell you this will PREACH honey I mean that. I love your blog and your site. I am no longer on FB because I just couldn’t stomach it anymore, but I wait on the emails so I can see what’s new on your site. Keep growing my Sista!!! Much love!!!!

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