Fear of Rejection or Cutting Your Nose to Spite Your Face

My annex is occupied by two young French women.  They seem very nice.  I think the idea must have been to get jobs and learn the language, but, by the sounds of it, they are usually at home.

The other day there was a knock on the door, and one of them introduced two older women, her mother and grandmother, who were staying for a few days.   Later I bumped into the second one with a third young woman, a friend who was visiting for the weekend.  Yesterday I arrived home in the morning to see my two tenants with four others, men and women their age, leaving the building.  Presumably they all stayed the night.

Part of me couldn’t care less.   Yet yesterday when I saw six of them saunter down the road it occurred to me that I should maybe say something.  Remind them that the booking is for just two people.  That they are supposed to ask if they want more people to stay, and that I make it clear in my listing that there may be an extra charge for this.

Today I realised one of the reasons I didn’t: if I told them, and nothing changed, then I would know that they didn’t care what I said or thought.  And that would be somehow worse.  They would be ignoring me, disregarding my wishes to my face.  It would be unbearably hurtful.

Why?  Why does it seem to me that it would be worse?

I do realise that this is pathetic.  And I realise as well that I do it a lot, but I have never looked this fear in the eye and realised how absurd and counter-productive it is.  Now I have, I want to understand it with a view to stopping!

So for example: there is an organisation I really, really like.  The first time I came across it I was annoyed not to have thought of it myself (though obviously if I had it would have remained an idle dream).  When I first went there I felt completely at home.  So for a while I have been thinking I would like to work there.  A few days ago I looked on their website with a view to writing a speculative letter, and noticed a few jobs advertised, one of which I can definitely do.

Found that a friend of a friend has a connection there, asked for an introduction, and we had a chat on the phone today.  I am so excited by this prospect.  I have written a covering letter and a cv.  But I am scared.  I want it so much that I fear I would rather not apply than do so and risk being turned down.  The disappointment would be too much.  Don’t worry, I will send it off tomorrow, with my heart in my mouth.  But the irrational temptation is there.  What is so terrible about rejection?  What is so terrible about being rejected by someone else that I would rather reject myself in advance?

My ex often accused me of cutting my nose to spite my face.  I often did it with him, and I still do it.  Why?  And how do I stop?


Image: an old cartoon from Prospect magazine.


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Florence Feynman

I am a middle aged, middle class woman, thinking.

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