9: Fear of Rejection

9: Fear of Rejection

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Fear of Rejection

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

~Jack Canfield

One fine Sunday morning, I sat in front of the television with my coffee and turned on Oprah’s “SuperSoul Sunday.” On the screen, I saw a radiant woman talking to Oprah. I learned that she was Arianna Huffington, who had written a new book called Thrive. I connected with her story of overworking and trying so hard to live a successful life. Okay, maybe my life wasn’t just like Arianna’s, but I was also a woman who worked two jobs, a single mom, a writer, and a person who felt drained, emotionally exhausted and broken inside. I was on the verge of a breakdown.

Honestly speaking, I had no clue who Arianna Huffington was. I had read numerous articles on the Huffington Post website, but was never curious enough to research where that name came from.

I watched the show and cried all the way through it. I felt like God or some kind of higher power was talking to me. He was telling me to stop and thrive. I wasn’t alone; many women like me had gotten up and changed their lives, and so could I.

I was so inspired that I went on Arianna’s website to buy her book and found out about the California Women’s Conference. The ticket was expensive, but I needed to feed my soul and, ironically, it was to be held on my forty-fourth birthday. If I bought the ticket, it would mean no Starbucks morning coffee for about two weeks and four extra hours of tutoring work, but I decided to just do it!

I woke up the morning of the conference feeling excited and energized. It felt like it was the best thing I had ever done for myself! There were so many inspiring speakers, including Jack Canfield, Lisa Nichols, Immaculée Ilibagiza, Sekou Andrews, and Arianna Huffington herself.

Toward the end of the day, it was time to get books signed by Arianna Huffington. I was the very last person in line, but eventually I got to Arianna, and when our eyes met, the kindness in her made me feel like I was about to meet a friend. I sat down slowly on the chair next to her and started to talk. With tears rolling down my face, I told her how I had always wanted to be a writer, but it was hard for me to pursue my dream while raising my kids. As I spoke, she put her hand on my shoulder and turned to get something from her purse. She pulled out her business card and handed it to me. I went silent and looked at her, and then at the card.

“Write to me, honey,” she said with a smile.

Slowly, I picked up my signed book and business card, and got up from my chair. I had no clue what she meant by “write to me.” Arianna Huffington had given me her business card, but what was I supposed to do? Could she really have meant it? Did she really want me to write to her?

I went home that night with a lot to think about. I could go back to being the same old Tami, who just allowed life to happen while permitting others to make decisions for her. On the other hand, I had just left a twenty-year marriage and I was taking baby steps toward becoming the woman I knew was somewhere inside me.

That night, as I sat in front of my laptop, I felt like a child who had lost her way and had no one to guide her. What should I say to Arianna Huffington? And why would a busy woman like her even respond to me? I wished someone would tell me what to do, but I reminded myself that I had already made the choice to be a strong, independent woman.

I decided to write something anyway. Later I could decide whether to send it to Arianna. So, I wrote about myself and my dream of writing. I hoped to touch people’s hearts through my words, and tell them what I had learned from all my years of pain and being disconnected from myself. I wrote a few drafts (eleven to be exact), and then the most difficult part came: Should I send it or not? It was 2:00 a.m. by then, and my finger kept avoiding the “Send” button. The fear of rejection seemed so much bigger than it should be. I finally told myself that even if I never heard back from her, I couldn’t live with the regret of not trying. At 2:48 a.m., I finally hit “Send.” Afterward, I fell asleep immediately from the mental exhaustion.

I woke up around 7:00 a.m. and found several notifications on my phone. As I lay in bed, I started to scroll through them — and then jumped out of bed. I had received an e-mail back from Arianna Huffington! She wanted me to become a blogger for the Huffington Post, and she connected me to the editors!

It’s been over three years since that wonderfully stressful day that was filled with the fear of rejection and ended up changing my life. Today, I have published three books and written numerous articles for the Huffington Post, Thrive Global (Arianna’s new website), and Mind Body Network. I also run my own website called Detoxthesoul.com. I have gone back to school to get an MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University. And, most importantly, I learned that rejection only means that I tried to do something outside of my comfort zone, and it is by going outside my comfort zone that I continue to make progress.

~Tami Shaikh

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