1. You have a “me-vs-the-world” mentality.
Because you view everything in life as a ruthless competition in which you have to be stronger, smarter, more cunning, and more talented than other people, you view most people as enemies and think that their quick rise to success is part of the reason why you haven’t succeeded yet.
2. You feel that life is not fair to you because you aren’t a certain way.
Being constantly left out and uninvited by others as a child has shaped how you view yourself and your perception of how the world operates, you hold onto the belief that life will never be fair for you because you aren’t social, attractive, pleasant, smart, or likable enough. You think that success is contingent upon others approving of your choices, which have to be similar to the choices they’ve made, not the choices that you truly want to make.
3. You try to find faults in people who seem like they’ve achieved the same things you want very quickly and without much struggle.
You look at LinkedIn or Facebook profiles of people you went to school with and villainize them if they have gotten a competitive job within a few days of graduating. You ruminate over your own insufficiencies, but also ruminate over how there are so many other flaws and what you perceive as character deficiencies in others — you judge them for exterior things like partying too much, being too materialistic, being high-maintenance, drinking, not being selective about who they are friends with, and generally being too popular for your liking, since you feel left behind, so it is painful for you to see them “happy and successful” in a conventional way that most people approve of.
4. You have a bitter attitude, which makes you hate how others define success.
Your attitude towards life is bitter because you feel alone, unwanted, and worthless based on how few people seem to care about you. Feelings of rejection still linger within you because of how poorly unrequited lovers, the popular people, your parents, your exes, your superiors, or your coworkers have made you feel. You cling to the past and replay moments when anyone has made comments of how someone else is more qualified than you for a certain job, how you aren’t measuring up in comparison to others in your family, or how you are too shy and weird for your own good. Thus, this bitter attitude you have towards those who have both criticized you and praised others keeps you enslaved to your pain that stems from past memories that darken your perception of how “normal” people achieve success and prosperity.
5. You reassure yourself that it’s not you — it’s them who can’t appreciate how different you are.
You pity yourself for the injustices that social rejection has caused in your life, but you also prop yourself up on an imaginary pedestal in which you are a tortured, misunderstood soul that is destined for greatness but not appreciated enough. This is a toxic view that you have of yourself because it prevents you from connecting with others or empathizing with their struggles, which do exist.
6. You believe that success only happens to the popular, the rich, those who have connections, the greedy, the callous, or those who “sell out.”
Success is not something that happens to people, but you think otherwise because of how others have mistreated you and left you out in the cold. Social rejection has made you cynical and wary of those who gained overnight success and popularity, since you believe that their connections and their greed for money and fame are responsible for propelling them into the spotlight. But you need to recognize that it is your ego that is jealous of those who are highly praised in society and uses the defense mechanism of making others look evil as an attempt to make itself feel better (in a self-pitying, ego-centric way that actually makes you feel worse).
7. You think other people are wasting your time when they ask to be in your company.
Whenever people do invite you to outings or ask if you want to talk about anything, you feel threatened since you think they are trying to sabotage your quest for success. You think they are wasting your time by suggesting that you do things with them that are irrelevant to your own life goals. And your past experiences with social rejection have hardened your heart and reinforced your disdain for doing anything (which you feel is trivial) with others.
8. You judge others for being too materialistic, shallow, or driven to pursue things for the sake of the rewards.
You view yourself as being intrinsically motivated, uncommon, and overall a special snowflake that ought to gain whatever you want. This is what the ego does to prop itself up after facing countless rejection. You judge the little things that other people do in their daily lives and point out that they are too shallow and not as deep as you because you think their acceptance in society involves their willingness to conform and do what is most profitable, without caring about a deeper, more everlasting meaning in life. Even though it is good to identify things that set you apart from others, it is detrimental for you to judge how other people live their lives because in the end, you are only setting yourself up for failure by obsessing over what others do and not focusing enough on accepting or loving yourself as you are. Envy leads to comparison, comparison leads to judgment, and judgment leads to resentment of others, which holds you back from fully immersing yourself in your own life in the way that’s free from past wounds.
9. Whenever someone gets a new job, you just think it’s a result of their connections instead of their merit.
In the professional world, you associate being rejected from jobs as a fault of the networking system — that people only get jobs because they are social and are friends with someone that work in the company. While there is some level of truth to this, you shouldn’t take rejections so personally because it is your ego trying to defend itself and deflect the blame on others for not choosing you. Instead of taking rejection as a personal insult, you need to examine yourself first and try to see if you need to improve on something that may be preventing you from reaching your goals.
10. You find it difficult to be genuinely happy when someone achieves the dream that you haven’t been able to achieve for years, especially when that person is well-liked, attractive, and not weird enough.
Strangely enough, when someone quirky and unattractive (by conventional standards) succeeds, you don’t feel resentful at all. However, if you see someone being successful at turning their dreams into reality, you are instantly jealous and think their achievement is a result of them being attractive and pleasant, but not too weird to be disliked or shunned by the masses.
11. You constantly complain about high, unrealistic standards and how people are being unreasonable for demanding them from you.
You complain a lot because your past experiences with social rejection molded your perspective of what is accepted by society and how inadequate you are because you have very few friends, don’t make enough money, or seem to fail at everything that others have succeeded in. Thus, you blame society for holding you to such a high standard and cry whenever someone criticizes you or tells you that you aren’t doing enough to help yourself. And this solidifies the resentment and contempt you have for society’s standards and the people who seem to be favored more than you.
12. You believe that you will never be successful because someone else’s success means that you’re a failure.
This is a Social Darwinian construct that permeates your belief of success because your experiences with falling behind other people influences you to think that success can only be earned and deserved by crushing the competition, fitting in, and meeting high standards that you are unable to meet (this may include getting superior grades in a respected major, holding so many leadership positions in competitive activities, being charismatic, being well-liked by those who have authority, perfecting their external image, being highly involved in social groups, looking like they have it all, and generally doing more than what the average human has the energy for). However, their definition of success and society’s definition of success doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful in a way that’s most genuine to you. Even when it is difficult to accept that you are good enough after living a life constantly scrutinized and worn out from struggling to compete with others, you need to recognize that you aren’t unworthy if you aren’t unable to do it all. You need to define what success is for yourself, regardless of your past, your reputation, or how poorly the people you don’t like may perceive your life. It’s perfectly okay if you want to retreat from this competitive battle for image-based superiority and pursue a quiet, simple life which allows you to flourish on your own terms.
13. You are bipolar when it comes to how you want to be perceived — on one hand, you desperately want others to approve of what you are doing, but on the other hand, you want to be different and not allow other people’s disapproval hold you back from moving forward on your own path in life.
You are resentful when other people succeed. You just want the acceptance and approval that they have, and you think that conforming and going along with the wishes of your parents, peers, or anyone else is the only way to make them like you. And you are also resentful when some people achieve their dreams more quickly than you have because you wish that the attention were on you, not them. But you also want to be different in the most unconventional way possible for the sake of proving people that you are not a loser who is always falling behind in life and that you can be more successful than them on your own terms. You swing from one desire to the other — at one moment you wish you could succeed in a traditional sense but the next moment you want to prove people wrong. That’s because both seemingly contradictory desires for approval are from the same source — the open wound of rejection that hasn’t been healed yet simply because you refuse to move on. And the only way to be healed is to let go of your ego-centric desire to show that you are superior to other people for the sake of getting back at those who have hurt you in the past. Even though they have rejected you, it is your fault that you are still giving their rejections the power to turn you into a bitter, pathetic, and judgmental person that keeps holding onto bad memories and inflicting torture on yourself.
Remember, rejection is a part of life, and self-acceptance isn’t dependent upon what others think of you or how much others approve of the people you don’t like more than they approve of you. You mustn’t allow people’s rejections of you control your every thought or emotion because it will destroy you from the outside in.
Letting go may take some time, but acknowledging that you have this problem and taking deliberate action to shift your focus from the past to the present are critical when you are in the process of healing yourself and beginning to create a new life that helps you become more aware of the beauty and abundance of joy that you have to share with the world.
Originally published at thoughtcatalog.com on September 5, 2018.