It’s the season for high school proms. As I scroll through Facebook seeing my friends’ photos of their children all dressed up with their dates, it reminds me of my own senior prom night many years ago. My best friend Linda and I were shy and awkward, so although we secretly hoped we would be asked, it didn’t happen. We refused to sit at home and wallow in our sorrows, so on prom night we went to Chelsea Street Pub, a popular restaurant in the mall that served nachos like they should be–piled high with lots of cheese and jalapenos. After gorging ourselves, one of us got the bright idea to drive to the venue where our prom was being held to watch our fellow classmates as they walked into the most epic event of high school. Why we thought this was a good idea, I’ll never know. It felt embarrassing. Even though no one saw us, we felt rejected. But what I didn’t understand at the time is that although we felt sad, no one had actually rejected us.

We’ve all had moments similar to this: the pain of not being chosen. Maybe your peer was selected for a promotion instead of you. Perhaps you were never asked out on a date by someone whom you liked. Maybe you weren’t able to close a sale that you worked really hard on. Most of the time, when we believe we’re not good enough, smart enough, cute enough, athletic enough, etc, it’s a lie…it’s not really about us at all. It’s just that the person who is doing the choosing has chosen someone else because it’s about what they want.

Sure, it hurts, but when we realize that most of the time it’s not about us, it prevents us from beating ourselves up and feeling like we are lacking something. The next time you feel rejected, really ask yourself–are they truly rejecting you, or is it just because they found something or someone that is better for them at the time? Putting it in perspective can make all the difference in how we handle life’s disappointments.