Outgrowing Social Anxiousness: A Three Month Challenge
Recently I had my first experience of rejection since I became single again. It occurred during a friend’s house party; an event which I had been very excited for and gone into fully intentional to make a positive and memorable impact, connect and have fun with every person there, and one way or another experience being popular with the opposite sex. It was a costume party, and I went in with my outfit and grooming on point, a smile on my lips, my dancing groove on and my charm at the ready. I felt I hit it off with everyone I talked to at this party, made an effort to present the best of myself and listened to those I met attentively and with interest. I was complimented many times on my outfit, made people laugh and could tell that those whom I engaged in conversation enjoyed talking to me, in some cases flirting with me as well. Despite all this however, I left the party alone, a bit disappointed and honestly feeling like a failure.
There was one fact that stuck clear in my mind as the quintessence of my failure, and that was that I had been rejected. In short, I’d chatted to two different girls and felt I’d hit it off with both of them. On separate occasions, while dancing, I moved closer to have a more one on one dance with one of them, and was flat out turned down both times. It wasn’t a very public rejection, and I didn’t get the impression that anyone else even noticed, yet for me it felt awkward, embarrassing and painful, and I was worked up for the next 24 hours over what had gone wrong? Was I not charming enough? Not good looking enough? Was my body wrong? Was I too cocky? Had I been too forward, too rushed, had I come off as desperate or over eager? All these thoughts went around over and over in my head without any answer being reached. In hindsight, it was difficult for me even to distinguish why exactly I was so upset about it, or what I would do differently if I had the chance to go back and change things. I wasn’t keen to ask them why they didn’t want to dance with me, although from the space I am writing from I do wonder if I could have. The point however, two simple rejections, not particularly public or mean, politely executed, by girls who I didn’t really know and had no strong emotional investment in, suddenly sent me on a spiral of doubt, self-pity and upset. I even managed to have a much more successful interaction with another girl that same night, who was gorgeous, interesting and absolutely charming, even getting her details in the process. Yet despite this, it still wasn’t enough for me to decide to let go of a couple of interactions which didn’t go my way, and which, at the end of the day, really had no more significance than any other day to day dealings.
I stewed in this negative space until the next afternoon, when I had a few honest and extremely therapeutic conversations about what happened how I’d been feeling. In this space I realised something. In this rejection, or any other, it wasn’t the girls expressing ‘no’ who made me feel bad, it was me who made me feel bad. Theoretically speaking, in an alternate world where my values and beliefs were different, I could just have easily gotten just as hurt by someone saying they liked Kiwi fruit over mangos, or Superman over Batman. Alternatively, in yet a different world where I had again different beliefs, they could have been much nastier and said to me: “DANCE?! With you? You are the ugliest, most boring person I’ve ever seen, I’d rather die”, and it would slide right off me like water off a ducks back, without any hurt or significance on my end what so ever.
These might be some left of field examples, and regardless my point is, something in the state of mind I had on that night lead me to be sensitive to and put a lot of significance on rejection, particularly in the romantic sphere. I clearly have gotten into the habit of attaching a lot of significance and negative connotation to rejection, which in reality doesn’t necessarily mean what I think it means at all. There could be a million reasons those girls didn’t want to dance with me which had nothing to do with their attraction to me at all! And even if it was related to that, why should I care? If they don’t find me attractive, nothing would be likely to happen there anyway, so why not just move on and find someone with whom things come more easily?
How I’ve chosen to deal with this, being someone who chooses to live my life concluding that there’s no behaviour or belief in oneself which can’t be shifted (since their all made up, intangible things anyway), is to take on a commitment. It scares me even to write this and share it with you, yet all the same, here it goes. My commitment is to take every possible opportunity in the next three months to approach, converse and if appropriate, get the number/contact details of every girl I see and feel attracted to. I challenge myself to get as many numbers as I can in three months, and to up my quota each month. For the sake of clarity, I say three months because I believe having a time limit will incentivise me not to slack off, and by the 5th of April (I will post article this after I began the commitment), if I notice a difference in my confidence, my conversational skills, the size of contacts list and most importantly my tolerance for and how afraid I am of being rejected, then this experiment will be a success and I will come up with the next challenge or plan of action after that point. I don’t expect this to be easy and I do imagine that I will likely experience a fair amount of noes, however, possibly also a good number of yeses too, and the fun that may be had and possibilities that may be created from this undertaking for me outweigh my fears. I can make something I’m apprehensive about into a game, something light and fun, and that may just mean I end up with some power over it, while even possibly making some other people smile and letting them know their lovely in the process. After all, who doesn’t like that?
I will of course update the blog with any breakthroughs, breakdowns or interesting observations I have, and intend to create some special article at the end of it all to encompass what I gained from the experience so that I might provide something interesting, exciting or perhaps inspiring for you. Until then, keep it real and spread kindness my radiant romantics!
Amor and more,