Overcoming Rejection and Proving Them Wrong
I don’t deserve anything, but I can earn everything. It might surprise you, but to this day, I still face rejection on the dance floor. Whether it’s people being too nervous to dance with me or simply not wanting to, there are countless reasons why they don’t vibe with me. But I’ve learned that rejection is just a part of life. Sometimes it hurts more than other times, but it doesn’t define me. Let me take you back to a personal experience that taught me a valuable lesson.
Four years ago, while I was in the US, specifically Los Angeles, I was incredibly excited to visit a salsa club where the salsa scene started. As I looked up the location on Google Maps and read good reviews, I decided to call an Uber. I arrived at the club, dressed in a simple pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a fedora. Little did I know what awaited me.
As I stepped out of the Uber, I was confronted with a surprising reality. Expensive cars filled the parking lot, and everyone was dressed to the nines in tuxedos, dinner dresses, and Gucci suits. It seemed like a runway show, and it was clear that people came here to dance. I hesitated for a moment, but since I was already there, I decided to gather my courage and walk in. However, even the bouncer was better dressed than I was.
I approached the bouncer and asked, “How much is the entry fee? Can I come in?” To my astonishment, he replied, “No, you can’t come in with a hat.” I was dumbfounded. Wearing a hat while dancing seemed like a strange rule to impose in a nightclub. Usually, jeans, a t-shirt, and a hat wouldn’t matter, but this place was different. Undeterred, I asked him about the nearest washroom.
As he pointed me in the right direction, I rushed to the washroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I resembled a hedgehog. My hair was matted and messy. Without a second thought, I washed my hair in the sink and used the hand dryer to blow dry it. I didn’t care how I looked; I was determined to get into that club. As people walked past me, I probably appeared like a homeless person, but I paid no mind.
After fixing my hair as best as I could, I paid the entry fee and walked onto the dance floor. Everyone around me was dressed impeccably and dancing, but there were no smiles in sight. Undeterred by the initial rejections, I approached the first girl beside me who wasn’t dancing and asked, “Hey, do you want to dance?” She looked me up and down, scoffed, rolled her eyes, and replied with a resounding “No,” as she walked away. It stung, but what hurt even more was the next four girls who also turned me down.
As I started to lose hope, I noticed a group of seven people sitting around a table, consisting of three couples and one girl sitting alone. I mustered the courage to approach them. Just as I was about to ask the single girl to dance, one of the guys noticed me and said, “She wouldn’t want to dance with you. Keep walking.” It was a painful moment. In that instant, I felt like nobody wanted me there, like I didn’t belong.
With a heavy heart, I decided to leave and reached for my phone to call an Uber. But then anger surged through me. I was angry at all those who underestimated me, who judged me solely based on my appearance. Determined not to let their judgments define me, I put my phone down and made up my mind. I wouldn’t leave until I got a dance. There was only one girl I hadn’t asked yet, so I marched over to her and said, “Hey, do you want to dance?” I could see from her expression that she was about to refuse, but I interrupted her and confidently added, “I can promise you one thing. If you dance with me, you’re going to laugh and have a good time.”
She rolled her eyes, let out a deep sigh, and reluctantly agreed, as if doing me a favor. Though it hurt, I didn’t let it dampen my spirits. I had an opportunity now. I grabbed her hand, triple spun her on the dance floor, and smoothly led her into a dip. Her frown transformed into a wide smile, and she became as sweet as Nutella melting in my hands. We danced and spun, and the most incredible sight awaited me. The girls who had rejected me earlier stood with their jaws on the floor as I effortlessly showcased my moves. I’m not saying I’m petty, but I couldn’t help but smile as I spun this girl around, dancing like nobody was watching.
As the dance came to an end, I thanked her with genuine appreciation. She was out of breath, and so was I. We exchanged smiles and compliments, and she admitted, “That was an amazing dance.” I replied confidently, “Yeah, I know.” Feeling great, I quickly took out my phone to call an Uber and leave the club while I was on a high.
But just as I was about to dial, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and there she was—the first girl I had asked to dance. She apologized sincerely, saying, “I’m sorry that I said no. I saw you dancing with that other girl, and you both were smiling. Honestly, nobody smiles in this club, and I just want to have fun. Would you do me the honor of dancing with me?”
That moment felt incredible. Not only did I say yes and dance with the second girl, but I ended up staying in that nightclub until 3 am, dancing with every single girl and even a few guys. I defied their underestimation of me. People will always underestimate me, but I’ve learned not to take it personally. The only thing I can do is show up, be myself, and prove them wrong. I don’t deserve special treatment, but I can earn anything I want.
So, this week, don’t come into your work or the dance floor expecting any special privileges. Approach it humbly and be ready to earn your place.