Day 66.5 (Fear: Worse than Death)

Prompt 1: You have 15 minutes to live; write the story that has to be written.

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So why did I start 30vanquish?

I started it because I slowly want to conquer fear, especially fear of other people’s judgments, which has handicapped me for so many years.

The inability to express myself has hindered me for so long.

-Throughout my childhood, I was always a shy child. I was always unable to express myself. Throughout grade school, I was timid and thought that by being the nice guy, no one would mess with me. However, I was picked on during grade school because shyness can be seen as weakness.
-Fast forward to high school. I was seen as a weakling because I didn’t fit it with any group. The funny thing is that there was a student so quiet that people noticed him. I just went through the shadows; no one noticed me. That stuff happens though. High school wasn’t the easiest cup of tea. But this isn’t a sob story.

I told you those details because I was afraid throughout the first 18 years of my life.

I wasn’t living; I was merely existing.

-When other people were dating, I was isolated by my own fear.
-When other people were having the time of their life at parties, I was isolated by my own fear.
-When other people were talking to one another about some music or movies, I was isolated by my own fear.

I re-told my past to show you that it took me so many years to realize fear is useless.

Fear is only an illusion today. It was needed during evolutionary times to keep the species in check. However, 99% of the situations you’ll be in don’t need that type of fear, yet we let so much of it dictate our lives.

For example, I went to the grocery store today and I wanted to do a rejection but the fear caught me and made me build the walls that my brain has made as a default option. It stiffened me up. Although I tried so hard to break those walls down, I couldn’t muster the courage. I failed everyone who expects me to have my (almost) daily rejections.

So it’s frustrating. I’m far from mastering fear. But each time I write a rejection story here, I give fear a right hook.

Eventually, I want to knock it out. I want to make fear so weak in its knees that it is reduced to a tiny doubt in the mind that I can easily stomp on.

Don’t you want to do that too? Knock fear down in its tracks. Maybe it’ll never be fully eliminated.

But to knock it down during moments when you need to put yourself out there gives yourself the fighting chance.

Half days will be my lengthy entries towards
Shorter prompts will be included in my regular posts.

Day 66 (Avoid Being the Doormat: The Two-Chance Rule)

Or how I learned this rule from experience…

There was this girl that I always wanted to hang out with.

I asked her to hang out four times and she rejected me all four times throughout the year.

I quickly realized I was wasting my time talking to her. I kept talking to her after she told me I had no life besides driving her around like a taxi. And I only offered to help her out one time.

I guess that was one time too many.

Some people won’t think anything of you, so the best way to get rid of them is by following the two-chance rule.

It enables a balance between giving people some leeway and not being a pushover/doormat.

It’s quite simple.

When someone rejects you a first time, try to see if they will be willing to hang out at a future date.

For example, if they offer an alternative date, they have created their second chance on their own.
If they don’t, then offer another day to hang out, meet up, etc. If they decline the second time, then you should be willing to get out of the way and go on to the next person.

I feel that two chances is the right amount because everyone has their bad day. If I ask someone something when they’re having a bad day, then they may not be in the right mood to accept my request. If I ask them a second time on a different date, then they could accept.

Asking two times may be a solution to some lost possibilities.

So in summary:
The two-chance rule: Offer them something not once but twice. If they decline both times, it’s time to move on and look forward to the next person.
However, sometimes that second attempt can make all the difference.

Day 65 (The Wall; Grinding Out of It)

“People who have a built-in all-purpose excuse (middle child syndrome, wrong astrology sign, some slight at the hands of the system long ago) often end up failing–they have an excuse ready to go, so it’s easier to back off when the going is rough.” – Seth Godin, May 26th 2011.

Ever have a time when you thought that creating a metaphorical wall (e.g. just another form of a “comfort” zone) would make you feel comfortable with yourself? Didn’t it make you feel stagnant instead?

One of my favorite albums is Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It’s about a boy named Pink (haha, funny) and through many negative experiences throughout his childhood and teenage years, ends up constructing a metaphorical wall to make himself safe from harm’s way. However, did that metaphorical wall safe him from any negative emotions? No it didn’t.

So why am I talking about this? It’s because I experienced this for the past week. I’ve created many excuses that symbolize that metaphorical wall.

I bet many of you had a week where you didn’t want to go out. Maybe you just wanted to sleep the week off. Or you didn’t want to interact with people.

I had a list of excuses as to why I’ve hit the wall:
-My sleeping pattern hasn’t existed for a couple of weeks, thanks to essays and exams and that evil potion that people call caffeine.
-I’m a shy fool because I can’t speak for crap.
-Do I even look normal to anybody?

These excuses and insecurities are downright terrible but that’s what happens sometimes.

All these types of negative reinforcements are there to combat my mission here to create opportunities.

I decided to imagine a light switch and turn those damn negative thoughts off.

I called up all the people I could to hang out with.
I asked my friends from Day 47 to hangout with them. They agreed. Accepted.
My other close friend who planned to hangout with me on Friday forgot that it was a 3-day weekend, so she had to cancel last minute. However, we agreed on another date. Delayed.
Other friends also delayed their hangout day due to other plans.
Even Jason Shen, who lives in San Francisco, couldn’t accept my offer because he was out of town! Delayed.

However, putting myself out there enabled me to express that I did, in fact, want to hangout with them.

When negative thoughts are starting to create a metaphorical wall, then it’s time to grind your way out of it.

Even the smallest offer to hangout with someone can change the momentum of those feelings.

Being able to hangout with my friends from Day 47, albeit very simple, gave me more of that inspiration to create that second wind for myself to create more rejections.

On top of that, I don’t want to become a hypocrite!

So don’t get down on yourself when you start creating excuses; just be sure to get out of that mindset as quickly as possible. Even a tiny, positive request can enable you to get out of that wall.

Grind out of it at whatever rate you can.

Day 64 (Life or Poker: How to Overcome a Bad Starting Hand)

“The real world is much more like a poker game, with multiple players trying to make the best of whatever hand fortune has dealt them.” -David Moschella, “Computerworld”

Before you read the rest of this post, ask yourself, what would you do with a 12.4% chance of success?

The game of poker has always fascinated me because there are so many ways to have success in it.

I played with some friends a few days ago and it reminded me that there’s so many ups and downs in the game, just like life. There are great successes with good hands, great successes with bad hands, and even great failures with good hands.

I had to get rejected to have a chance at winning.

For example, I bluffed that I had two aces. I went all in.
However, my opponent had two queens and I had absolutely nothing. He read my bluff, called my all in bet, and I lost everything. But what if he folded?
I would’ve doubled my money without anything.

Don’t expect great opportunities to come by passively all of the time.
-I remember going all in without a good hand because I wasn’t dealt a good hand for an extremely lengthy period during the game. I kept getting dealt bad starting hands.

Sometimes, you have to get a metaphorical wrench and force the door of opportunity to open up anyways.

Here’s the example that I wanted to show you:
Let’s take the hand that everyone thinks is invincible (which it isn’t), two aces. (AA).
And let’s compare it to one of the worse (if not, the worst) hand, (2-7 not suited).

Let’s assume that there’s only one other person in this particular hand and they have AA.

You have 2-7 not suited.

Even if you went all in with one of the worse possible hands against your opponent who had the best starting hand possible, you still have a shot.

How is this possible? Well let’s look at the percentages:

Chances of winning: AA (86.5%) vs 2-7 not suited (12.4%) with a 1% chance of a tie.

Think about that. Let’s go back to the beginning of this post.

What would you do if you had a 12.4% chance of being successful in anything?

That’s about a success rate of 1 in 8 with one of the worse hands possible.

So what if you were dealt one of the worse hands in real life?

My metaphor for this was that:
-maybe you don’t look so physically attractive in your opinion.
-maybe you didn’t grow up with the best parents.
-maybe you didn’t get the lover that you saw everyone else around you get.
-maybe you didn’t get that one job you really wanted.

You could wither with those negative experiences or you could overcome the odds. As long as you’re breathing and living, your odds are not 0%.

I also feel that if you put effort into things you can control, the percentages go higher in your favor.

Looking back at the above points:
-You have the power to dress nicely, keep good hygiene, and eat right to look the best you can.
-You have the power to overcome their faults and find ways to solve them.
-You have the power to ask for a date from someone.
-You have the power to find another job opportunity.

The main point that I want you to get out is that:

Although life is unfair and gives everyone different starting hands, some better, some worse, everyone has a fighting chance, percentage wise.

All you’re aiming to do is to increase your percentage to have a better chance at success by changing the things you can control (your decisions, your outward appearance, etc.)

However, no matter what your percentage is, why not go all in with something you’re passionate about?


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Day 63 (Familiarity: Fusiform Face Area is Magical)

So why is this Fusiform Face Area (FFA) so important?

First, did you ever have a time when you saw an old friend, acquaintance, or stranger but recognized them?

That’s the FFA working it’s magic.

Why do we tend to forget names but not faces?

It turns out that this area gives us the familiarity of people’s faces and the ability to recognize people.

It even let me find an old acquaintance.

I went on the bus with my housemate and we were on our way back to the apartment, as class ended.

However, I noticed someone in the front row that looked like someone from my days back in high school.

At first, I thought the better of it and decided to not talk to her.

Then, I kept thinking about the way she was dressed (all black) and how that person back in high school looked so familiar.

So, I got lucky. I got a break.

The person sitting next to her went off a couple of stops before mine.

I quickly took that seat.

I tapped her on the shoulder.

I asked her, “Hi, you’re from [insert my high school]…”

Her: “[insert my high school] right?”

She finished my sentence! It was definitely her. And without even introducing myself again, she said, “Hey Matt.”

We still knew each others’ faces even though it has been five years since the last time I saw her.

So we caught up about what we were doing for the last few years for a few minutes before my stop came.

Taking action ensured that I’d never have to ask, “Was the girl on the bus really someone I knew back from high school?”

And by the way, she just added me on Facebook after I asked her. Now I have a choice to catch up with her even more. Total acceptance.

So if there’s something to learn from this, trust your instincts because the FFA remembers faces extremely well.

Besides, who cares if it’s the wrong person?

Isn’t that a nice opener idea for a stranger anyways?