Rejection Sensitivity

So – rejection sensitivity. This is a very common problem. Especially for those of us who are Inattentive sub-types, with our ability to internalise EVERYTHING. We take it in, and we assess it. Only we’re not necessarily very good with the assessment part without learning skills and having an awareness of our limits.

I have a few examples of comments that have impacted me over the years. This one is the quickest to recall and still makes me nervy at times even while simultaneously knowing that I’m OK and it was never meant to have a lifelong impact. The self-awareness and logic side of me gets me through the anxiety that the emotional side of me produces. At the same time. This is me all over – outwardly emotional, inwardly still well and truly grasping logic and awareness.

Aged probably 9-10. A throwaway comment that got a laugh – the comment by a child my age, the laugh by another child and two adults, one a parent. I had been listening to music on a walkman while on holidays one summer. Because I’m that old. It was a tape belonging to a parent, I believe and the song in question was Leila (yes I remember this whole thing vividly), and I had – mostly without realising it – been singing along, in my own little world.

When I stopped and took the headphones off, the child made a comment about my singing and mimicked me doing it. Cue brief laughter. Event over.

I’m 32 and only in the last couple of years have I been prepared to even HUM along to anything (or worse, to the tune in my head) in front of a single soul. Including a baby. So mortified at the time, and so scared to re-experience it, I point-blank refused. In addition, I set about trying not to be ‘caught’ like that again. I learnt to hear and sing (even hum) in perfect pitch, or at least when I don’t, be fully aware I’m not doing it – in myself and others. I can now play melodies from music by ear and work out the correct or chosen key most of the time, just by ear. I can tell if a voice or instrument is even slightly off-pitch. I can hear if I am off-pitch as if I’m carrying around a tuner in my head. I can move the pitch up and down in complete octaves – rather than harmonising where you sing a different but complimenting note, this involves the same note but a higher or lower one (handy for singing along with my mostly male music collection!), and tell when it’s in the ‘right’ spot.

Obvious mis-fired notes or off-key voices – we have all heard them and know how it makes us wince, right? Well I have that response to the smallest sliver of not perfect.

It’s great, but it’s so OTT sometimes, and it ALL stems from rejection sensitivity. I’ve worked for over 20 years to correct that ‘fault’. Which looks ridiculous even to me – and yet I love my ability to sense notes so I’m ok with having done it at the end of the day.

Funnily enough, so does my ADHD diagnosed son – but my skill is primarily learned, his is either innate or something he learned very quickly once the musical interest began. He’s a natural play-by-ear person though. By ear, I can only play melody, he plays classical compositions two-handed.

I think this is a good example of rejection-sensitivity – and just how intense a result it can have!

P.S. You’re still unlikely to hear me belting along to my favourite (that day) song. It still gives me a lump in my throat and an intense urge to RUN far away just thinking about it! But I can hum in front of babies now. Most days 😉


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