Updated: Jun 25
Merriam-Webster defines rejection as, “the act of not accepting, believing, or considering something: the state of being rejected.”
In a world of trauma, you don’t have the opportunity to know or to learn who you really are. You look for love and acceptance from anyone who desires to provide it. It gives you a spirit of perfectionism; making you think that one day, everything you do, will be done perfectly. More often than not, rejection will have you looking desperate without you even realizing it.
I began modeling and competing in pageants at a very early age in South Carolina. Due to returning back to Baltimore, I was removed from the pageant circuit. I was reintroduced to modeling in my teenage years, but on a larger scale. I believe it was in my senior year, that along with one of my instructors, we co-created a charm club. The goal of the Charm Club was to assist in building self-esteem and learning proper etiquette for anyone who desired to partake. The club itself made me feel great because overall, I was not accepted in school, which was hurtful. The onset of rejection yielded from many places. On the outside, people believed I had high self-esteem and some thought I was arrogant. If they only knew.The sad part is I may never know the answers as to why I was rejected and why it still carries over thirty plus years later.
Even today, there are still classmates that do not interact with me. I was the captain of the Pom-Pom squad, a choir member and ran track and field, but not really liked much by my team members or classmates.
I was a young woman dealing with an identity crisis. I did not understand why people in school did not like me. I dressed nice, or so I thought; and I believed I was cordial and friendly, until you crossed me. But for some reason, I stayed in fights and honestly I could not tell you why. What I do know is that I would not let anyone say what they wanted to me, so verbally and physically, I fought back. I found myself dealing with more upperclassmen, due to the way I carried myself. It hurt to the point that I would shut down and begin staying to myself.
With the way I dressed and acted, it was a clear cry for attention. Rejection makes you feel alone, unloved and that no one cares about you. Living with rejection causes you to do things, whether it’s how you dress, wearing makeup, being loud or other things to draw attention to yourself.
My music teacher Ms. Gardner, pretty much made me perform my first solo in school. I loved singing, but that was at home or with my favorite auntie. I remember after my first time performing, people came up to me and told me they did not know that I could sing; my response, “Me either.” Ms. Gardner saw something in me that I did not know was there. Singing with the choir, you are heard, but not in the way you are when performing a solo. Singing a solo provides the opportunity of sharing your gift with the world, the way you desire to and not having to concern yourself with possibly messing up others. It meant the world to me that along with my teacher and peers, I had another gift to share with the world and they appreciated it.
That introduced me to another group of people that I would call friends. I did not have many friends in school, but the few I had were good to me. Lamont Thomas was a well loved vocalist at our school whom I had the brief opportunity of dating.With the rumors circulating around school and the rejection I faced, Lamont not once turned his back on me or changed how he felt about me. He embraced me and all of the ill things which were spoken about me. I think he knew deep inside the hurt I faced dealing with being rejected by my schoolmates.
Hanging out with Lamont and just listening to him sing was good enough for me. I can see him at this very moment sitting at the dining room table at my parent’s home, looking nervous. He found a way to always keep me smiling and that was enough for me. The joy of song, his friendship and laughter were taken away through death. I had no one to turn to and that was painful for me.
My new outlet was getting back into modeling. After barely graduating, I turned back to modeling because it was a fun and safe place which allowed me to gain confidence and make new friends. I signed up with John Casablanca, which was a costly lesson and pretty much did nothing for me. I later signed up with Odyssey Modeling and began taking classes.
I met an array of wonderful people that became lifetime friends. Returning to this allowed me to meet great people, and get to know myself a little bit. I was still seeking attention at this point, but did not know it. I set out to become a supermodel at the agency and anywhere else I could fit in and was liked. I had to be liked. By someone, by anyone. In meeting new designers and makeup artists, I was doing just that.
I was attending model call after model call and booking photographers to help build my portfolio. I was being hired for numerous runway shows and receiving extra modeling lessons on the side. Being 5’0″, did not help because the other models were 5’6” and the garments were made for them, however, my stride and attitude was that of a 6’0″ model, I was well on my way.
My popularity as a model was increasing because I broke the barriers. I broke the barriers of only a certain height could model and the clothes would not look right on shorter models. I did so well on the runway that designers began to create garments just for me which was unheard of. I was participating in photo shoots and realizing that I was good and became a chameleon. It was fulfilling, but I was still hurting and broken on the inside.
I met a photographer by the name of Eric, who I would shoot with often. I was still young and very naïve. Very trusting of any and everyone. Needless to say, one day I found myself shooting nudes with Eric. It was something he suggested and I thought it would be okay, don’t ask me why, but rejection played a part. How, you might ask?
Well, I wanted to be liked, accepted and continue to receive free photographs. I don’t recall ever saying no to anyone, because I wanted them to continue to like me. Eric and I continued to shoot together, until one day I decided against it. I never heard from Eric again and I was okay with that.
What happened?Was I beginning to feel better about myself, or was my conscience getting the best of me? I’m not sure. I never allowed anyone to photograph me in the nude again after that. Something inside of me was changing, and it was still a struggle. I wanted to be liked and loved, but not in that manner. I found myself turning down offers for shows and photo sessions. I still loved what I was doing, but I began looking at it from a different perspective. No longer did I desire any kind of attention but I wanted to be respected and celebrated with my clothes on not allowing people to do as they pleased. I was now respecting myself and wanted others to do the same.
I continued on with modeling well into my adult life, but having more pride in myself and treating it differently. I matriculated into training models and in doing so, we always had the casting couch conversation. This was a detrimental conversation to help them understand they have the talent and there was no need to sell themselves short only to become a prostitute in the industry. I knew the tricks of the trade and how being uninformed would literally have you selling your body and soul for promises that would never happen.
When you learn that you are not your circumstances, your trials and tribulations, you grow. In taking time to heal, you began getting to know yourself and moving forward. While this is a process, it is well worth the time. Now, I live for Retta. I dress for Retta, I wear make-up when I want to for Retta. No longer do I conform or live for others who I desire to like me or lust after me.
I am out of commission for wearing high heels right now, but wearing them is also for Retta. I do things for Retta. I am living to learn how to completely love Retta and every aspect of her. Retta is now saying no, without any feelings of guilt or sorrow. I am loving on myself more and more so that self-rejection is no longer a spirit I carry. I have been accepted by Christ and that is the most important acceptance of all.
Even now, I still see how some of my classmates, church members, co-workers look at me and turn away quickly without saying hello back or interacting with me at all. What is greater about these events now, is that I respond differently. I quit trying to fit in and began to stand out on my own. Whereas I used to be the problem, it is no longer me.
I began conquering rejection by declaring and denouncing which are two very necessary steps. First, you must denounce rejection and declare that you fall out of agreement with it. Let rejection know that it is no longer welcomed in your life. Second, stop rejecting yourself! Self-rejection is hatred of self.
You are rejecting every good thing that can come into your life. Love yourself and love on yourself so you can begin receiving everything you deserve. You have to get to know who you truly are as well as who God made you to be. Find verses in the Bible that state who you are in God and recite them daily. Celebrate your victories, celebrate yourself. Treat yourself well. Take yourself out on dates. Speak healing, wholeness and life over yourself. Change your language. Speak love, strength, beauty, and loving words to yourself.
Those are just a few ways to begin healing from rejection and self-rejection. If you need more indepth assistance, you can complete the contact page on my website.
Knowing and loving yourself is one of the greatest things you could ever do.