I’m afraid of rejection.

There are many fears I could share with you here, but the fear of rejection seems to be my daily companion. Of the many reasons for this, I’ll choose one for the sake of brevity. And I’ll pick a biggie––my father’s sudden and complete exclusion from my life at age five. There are few more powerful forms of rejection than that of a parent, especially at that age.I seemed to ‘handle’ the situation well as a kid, but felt the impact of it later, especially during puberty. Despite a steady and supportive group of friends, I developed an unhealthy urge to be liked. Also, I craved – and received – attention from boys. How I looked to them became more and more important. And I acted in ways that bred more room for rejection. My neediness in relationships scared off almost every guy I dated during those years. Some girl-friends were driven away by my self-centered attention seeking. Lacking the desire for academic success, I received little affirmation in school. There are many ways I courted rejection.

Somewhere along the way, things shifted. Confidence turned into self-doubt. Attention? As little as possible, please. The long blond hair that had received whistles of approval was chopped off one rainy afternoon. Fearing the pain of rejection more than ever, the seemingly confident and at times brazen girl turned into an incredibly shy version of herself, trying to make her invisible and rejecting herself more than she had ever been by anyone else. It was a painful time.

At age 33 I’m finally becoming more comfortable with myself, but the fear of rejection still lurks around. It was with me this morning when I posted on Facebook. It attempts to hover over me right now, as I’m writing this post. And as an adult it has led to more hours spent on work than play, due to the high expectations I have in myself.

So how do I deal with it? There are still times when I succumb to the fear, let it make decisions for me. But lately I’ve been pushing myself more to face the uncomfortable. Despite the fear. I acknowledge those waves of angst and insecurity, but don’t grant them the power I used to. Instead, I tend to the things that are important to me, and try to find affirmation from within rather than from others.

Lisa Sperling was born and raised in Germany, and moved to the U.S. in 2005. On her blog Joycreation she shares snippets of her journey towards a more intentional, creative way of life. Lisa recently founded “Sparrow Design Haus”, a one-woman web design business that’s on a mission to beautify the web one site at a time (her web site launches in March).

Also follow Lisa on PinterestFacebook and Twitter.

Fear Confessions is a series of essays by creatives who share personal stories about facing their fears. It’s a celebration of vulnerability.

  1. Krystle, you did a beautiful job on the design end! It’s such an honor to be part of your Fear Confessions Series – thank you so much for having me, and also for making it all run so smoothly!

    • Thank you, Lisa. It was a pleasure to share your story and I’m looking forward to following your business as your site launches in March.

  2. lisa! such an honest story – thanks for sharing. it’s so hard to move forward when you are your own worst critic and i’m so happy to see that you are moving forward and not letting that get the best of you! so excited for you to launch your studio next month!

    • Rita! So nice to see you here! Thank you for your kind words – they mean a lot! xoxo

  3. Lisa, wonderful post. I believe we all struggle with this battle at varying degrees. You are smart to address the fear when you find yourself in its midsts. There is a great new project called The Light Room started by an acquaintance of mine, http://www.the-light-room.com — Treacy seeks to help others disprove their fear-based self perceptions. Pretty cool!

    • Erin, thank you!! Also for pointing me to The Light Room – it looks like a wonderful site! I just signed up for her Eleven Amazing Days Project – very cool!

  4. Lisa, that was beautifully written and something I struggle with myself – my father left when I was 8 years old, so I can really identify with everything you said. I’m 47 and it also took me until my mid 30s to figure it out. I was so relieved to reach a point in my life where I feel it’s OK to be me, that I wasn’t to blame and I don’t need to prove that to the world by being a workaholic perfectionist, and that I have to stop worrying about other people’s happiness and start focusing on my own. Now if I overwork, it’s because I’m passionately obsessed about doing the work that makes me happy. All the best for your studio launch!