Everything I Know About Rejection I Learned From My Cats
He's just not that into mew
I love my cats – I just wish the feeling were mutual.
You see, I'm being totally ostracized by the three furry little beings who I share a home with. When I return from a long day away and I crouch down on the floor and call their names, they walk past me like I'm invisible. On the couch, I pet them, and they get up and leave. If ever I lean in to smooch their heads, they shrink back in disgust as if I'm a leper.
Sometimes when I'm laying down, one will jump on the bed and my heart will swell. Then it'll climb over me like I'm an inanimate sack of sand and drink from the glass on my nightstand. I'm lucky if it doesn't bat the cup over and spill water all over me before leaving.
I'm not asking for a lap cat, but it would be nice to be regarded.
Cheeto, Giblet, and Maus: Don't you know that I clean up your shit? I buy your food – the good stuff! I even got you that adorable scratching post that looks like a saguaro cactus ... ah, you just played in the box it came in.
I love you unendingly, and still you respond with wholesale indifference. So why do I think so highly of things that don't give a damn about me? Is it because I hate myself? No. It's because love doesn't have to be mutual for it to be real.
I love my cats, not because they're in contract to love me back but because they're amazing little creatures with highly individual personalities. In fact, the only thing they really have in common is that they all think I suck. I don't hold that against them. I've learned: Those who reject you aren't bad. They merely have incompatible interests in the situation.
That's why I no longer react poorly when I face rejection. Sure, there've been times when I'm tempted to turn sour, but I'd look like a total psycho screaming, "Love me, you asshole!" at an 8-pound tabby. So I acknowledge my emotions, attempt to be understanding of their priorities, and refuse to let it erode my self-esteem.
Rejection is an inevitability. Sometimes the people you want to be friends with don't want to be your friend. Sometimes your crush couldn't care less about you. Opportunities we deserve extend elsewhere. Often, we pour our souls into art and the world shrugs. I know this feeling well because I am a cat owner.
There's power in that. Getting used to dealing with rejection strengthens us, and cats are good practice for low-stakes rejection because they don't impact your dignity in any visible way – as long I continue wearing long sleeves to hide the scratch marks.