My Painful Secret

[EDIT 12/05/12: Not expressing myself to the girl I fell for in this story below is my motivation to express myself honestly and directly to people I interact with. Everything in this blog is a testament to being more authentic and honest with others.]

In my previous post, I posted my amazing 10-minute chat with a stranger on twitter about the concept of letting go.

To make sure that I’m not a hypocrite, I’ve let go of everything except for one painful story.

The story that needs to be told. It’s been aching to be told.

If you give me the time of day and read through this lengthy post, you’ll understand why I created this blog, why I do the things I do currently, and why I’ve come to embrace meeting people from all walks of life.

I’ll share with you the most painful event ever to happen to me.

I’ll risk having her see it.

——

*Used with e-mail permission.

“Everything depends on how we see things and not as they are.” – Carl Jung

Let’s first start with the back-story.

Around March 2010, I stumbled on her profile on an online website. We talked about philosophy, ideas, and private details rather quickly.

Then she said she would come to San Francisco with her friend around July. I offered to tour her and her friend around the city because I figured it would be cool to meet up. She agreed that it would be a great idea. We brainstormed on what things to do when we did meet up and it was fantastic.

Then that day arrived.

It was July 18th, 2010.

She came over from Atlanta with her friend to San Francisco. They wanted to see its beauty.

There’s a beautiful place here called the Science Academy of the Arts. There are a lot of innovative things to see there: an aquarium, a 4-story tropical rainforest, a natural history museum of animals, and a planetarium.

It was like a 4-in-1 candy store of knowledge for children but it still was amazing.

Once we arrived there, her friend decided to explore on her own. To this day, I have no idea why it happened but it did.

So there we were, just me and her.

I can remember her detail: Her lovely red hair, her piercing blue eyes, her quirky eyeliner that worked beautifully, and her ridiculous outfit that made her look like she was from the Victorian era.

There was a blur of moments. From being that close to kissing her in the elevator to talking about all the amazing philosophy of Albert Camus to touching starfish with her, it blew me away.

Yet, I never showed her how I felt. It was probably the biggest regret of my life.

You want to know why I didn’t show my intense feelings?
-I thought about logistics.
-I thought about her rejecting me.
-I thought about wanting to find a perfect moment to do it.

Well, that perfect moment never came. They never do.

There was the elevator but someone went in right before the door closed.
There was the beach that we went to afterwards but her friend was there.
There was the bus that we were on but it was too crowded.

All these excuses to put my feelings into a jar and stuff them down into the back of my brain.

Fast forward a couple days later and they left.

For a few months after she left, my brain had repressed my feelings for her. I decided that it was the right move and that I saved everyone the trouble by not acting upon my own feelings.

That was wrong. It was undeniably wrong. I had sacrificed my own feelings for the sake of comfort only to have it bite me in the ass later on.

On top of that, I had a right to tell her how I felt. As a human being, I had a right to tell her how I felt.

My shyness, timidness, and passivity robbed me of the chance to show my feelings.

That robber cost me almost a year of the unknown, a surreal feeling in my brain called “how the hell does she feel?”, and delayed progress in living my life.

That was just one of the many regrets.

(I would tell her nine months later but the circumstances were so different that it still doesn’t really count in my mind.)

I remember seeing my feelings as a water valve. The feelings were like a cap that held in the water with logic, logistics, and a feeling of comfort.

Fast forward to December 1st, 2010, when the cap burst into a billion pieces.

She was in NYC to meet up another friend because it was on her Facebook and I checked it the evening before, especially since she has posted new pictures up on her news feed.

I woke up at around 9am. I went on Facebook because I was expecting a wall post from someone.

However, the moment I sign on, I got to see the first thing on my news feed:
She has updated her relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’.

You got it. She ended up getting together with that friend.

Then all the feelings exploded back upon me like a tidal wave.

I didn’t mind the fact that they got together at that point. I just had so much regret that I didn’t tell her how I felt.

I had no idea what to do at this point. That was strike one.

Everything felt foggy. The time in lectures slowed down. Talking to other people seemed like a chore.

The only thing I looked forward to was running my ass off to calm myself down.

I had this feeling until I stumbled upon the SFgate article that would change my motivation.

On December 20th, the first day of my winter vacation, I read about Jason Shen and the whole concept of Rejection Therapy.

I decided that I was going to try it out. I had to.

Being shy and timid cost me the ultimate possibility.

Being shy cost me 20 years of this lethargic mess of a life.

It was time to change that.

Before I started my rejections, I was still hurting. When the water valve breaks, the water explodes; that’s how my feelings were going at this point. It was still violently flowing.

I did the only thing I could do: read books that moved me.

I borrowed Siddhartha by Hesse from the library.
That book calmed my soul because it proved to me that any characteristic, no matter how good or bad, is potentially in anyone.

I could grow to become more assertive. I could grow to gain any trait I so choose. It was time to accept responsibility to create traits that I desired.

Albert Camus’ The Stranger also gave me this insight: No matter what my mistakes are, the universe would continue to hum along with its indifference.

That is why I don’t mind any negative outcomes. When the universe is indifferent to your pain and your suffering, then it’s something that I could cope with. Those negative traits don’t have the power it used to have before because if the universe is indifferent to it, then why should I be so attached to it?

I have the power to make time for reality.

Therefore, this mindset enabled to see rejection as merely opening more doors.

Those books and learning about Rejection Therapy was the motivation I needed to stand back up.

So I started this blog and had many successful rejection attempts through January and February.
– I was able to offer Fruit Gushers to people.
– I was able to pass kettle popcorn to people because I bought a size that was too big.
– I was able to talk to strangers that I didn’t know and asked them to study with me. Some said yes. Others said no.
– I asked other girls out. While they said no, I understood why they did.
– I reunited with old friends.
– I put myself out there way more than I ever have.

All of these things shattered my reality. It changed me. It made me see an infinite number of doors in front of me, rather than a few missed chances.

The first 45 days or so were absolutely amazing with top-notch motivation.

So, “Why did you slow down in March?”

Fast forward to March 8th, 2011.

I called her again and I learned about her boyfriend. I learned about how amazing he was to her. I learned about how he was extremely productive, a musician, into many hobbies, etc.

Let’s just say that he was an Adonis in her eyes. He had the awesome amount of friends with fascinating backgrounds. And most importantly, she told me that he didn’t give a fuck.

He was the opposite to my introverted, close to home nature, that cared tons about people. At times, I cared too much.

Some of the hurt came back. I thought that call would’ve cleansed me of the issue but it backfired.

As much as comparisons are worthless, I still felt broken down by how things went so wrong. That was strike two.

So I became stunted on my process.

The darkness of my feelings pulled me back in and my rejections crawled to a halt in March. If you notice, there’s only a few posts in all of March.

So after telling my closest cousin the whole situation, he told me to tell her my feelings.

Looking back, I probably should have told her way back in August or September.

Better late than never?

Fast forward to April 9th.

I called her at around 11pm my timezone. She answered and asked me what was up.

Then I started sobbing like a maniac. I absolutely lost all control of whatever shit was coming out of my eyes. My voice started losing its way too. Then I mustered how much I fell for her and loved her.

She told me that she didn’t even think of that possibility of me being into her. I was caught in a terrible whirlwind of her life. Let’s just say I was simply collateral.

I could feel that she felt pity and guilt. Yet she told me, “Well Matt, I won’t call but call if you need to.”

It was a blunt gesture but I understood.

So after talking to her for a few hours, I hoped that telling her would make those feelings go away.

It did but not permanently.

By then, I was sure that I was only in love with my projection of her back from July 2010. By this time, her April 2011 self was far different. I was sure both of us had greatly changed.

Once April came, I did my best to hit the second wind of my website.

Fast forward to May 7th.

I decided to speak to her on Facebook chat. She told me that she was in a deep rage and told me to get lost. I recall her being somewhat angry at me because I made a sarcastic comment to one of her friends.

After a bit of arguing, she decided to break me down and say every terrible thing she could to me because she was in a raging mood.
The list included:
-You’re a fail douchebag, which is worse than real jerks.
-“Fuck You Matt”
-Don’t worry, I don’t unfriend you.

By this time, this caused her to have a condescending view of me. I didn’t deserve that and no one deserves that. I wasn’t going to sit around and be treated as an inferior being. The last sentence snapped something in my brain.

When someone treats you like you’re dirt that they can walk on, it’s time to leave.

Fast forward to May 10th.
I said some things in a reply that probably offended her too. I am not proud of what I said. They were rude and hideous things. But I had a right to stand my ground and be honest with how I was feeling.

Her reply is something I probably deserved as a finale. She pretty much stuck it to me back and attacked my being.

She told me how I needed to grow up, get more confident, and find my personal passion.

Just an excerpt: “It’s also the reason it hurts so bad when people you want, don’t want to talk to you.”

Then she unfriended me. That was strike three.

Those words hurt to the point of dizziness. She didn’t realize that learning about others, talking to strangers from all walks of life, and being able to see alternative perspectives about the world from other people is my passion.

But that was the ultimate rejection. Strike one, strike two, and strike three. I was out of her life.

Thus, the chapter is finally closed.

——

So why am I writing about this now? How can passion come from that?

It was the biggest metaphorical slap across my face.

She never understood that my hobby and pride is creating those connections with other people. Learning about other people is my passion.

Sure, I may not be a master musician, a creative artist, an entrepreneur (yet), into a concrete subculture, or even the best writer.

But I sure as hell am passionate about learning how others are. Learning their stories, their perspectives, their passions. That’s my creativity. To be able to meet people from all walks of life is a beautiful, ideal image in my brain.

There are days when I do my rejections and realize that I have bias. I have days where it seems futile to try. I fear that they’ll look down upon me because my passion cannot be clearly seen (clothing wise, product wise, etc.)

But I want to find the day where I can learn about anyone on the street. That’s why I strive to talk to strangers (whether it’s online or offline) and get rejected by them. I strive to do other things to break the ice. I’m far from the ideal point. But everything takes small steps.

The more I understand people with what I do, then the easier it is to spread the positivity through altruistic rejections, attempting to make a friend, sharing a compliment, and other creative endeavors.

——

I’ve experienced humiliation, regret, and the ultimate rejection all in one.

So why fear any other negative feeling?

I already climbed into the deepest pits of all of those painful feelings. There’s nothing left to get burned by.

——
So there’s the anti-fairytale.

The one thing I can change is that this isn’t the end.

That pain made me begin my life, my rejections, my experiments, my insights, and my quits.

It’s time to start living in the moment of reality.

I’ll keep creating those fleeting and permanent connections with others because that’s my passion. Let living in this life begin now.

It’s my artwork and art is about honoring your past.

——
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——
Thank you to everyone who helped me get the courage to go out there and hit ‘publish’ on this. You know who you are.

Make a Difference: Create Magical Moments Project

“This idea of how everything is interconnected, and the impermanence of things. It sums up the human condition to me, and it helps me on my path.” – Jeff Bridges

Here’s an example of what a magical moment is to me and how you can make a difference to someone else in a matter of minutes. Details will be below.

It’s amazing to think how the Internet has connected people from all around the world. What happened yesterday really proved to me the beauty of this:

That simple 10 minute conversation calmed me down because I could fully resonate with it. The moment I tweeted back to her that it related to her amazing fashion work, I hit her one core passion. It was a magical moment that couldn’t been done in any other generation, which is why I love social media.

I thanked her for that amazing conversation and she thanked me as well.

No other generation has had the ability to communicate to one another so swiftly and easily. It’s amazing to be able to speak to someone all the way in Melbourne, Australia from my area back in California.

That’s why I end up leaving Twitter in the static background. That’s the connection to the rest of the world’s broadcasts. I’ll take any amount of noise in order to fetch beautiful signals every so often.

——

So what is the “Magical Moments Project”?

So the example above is what I call a magical moment. A magical moment is when two people share positive words, energy, and ideas with one another. It may only be that one time you connect with someone in that way. That’s alright. That tiny positive spark could make a huge exponential difference.

How you can join in:
-Go on Twitter for 15-30 minutes.
-Add 1-20 new people. (Don’t worry, you could always unfollow them again if you so choose.)
-Since they’re new people, watch for their tweets specifically.
-Then @ reply to one of their tweets. Create a message where it’ll be easy for them to reply to you.
-Maybe they’ll reply. If not, try again. Or try someone else.
-When they do reply, reply back and keep the conversation going.
-If you both resonate with that one specific topic, you’re on your way.
-When the conversation has mutual rapport, then you can feel the magical moment where you’ve really connected. It could last 5 minutes or create a permanent friendship.
-You’ve just made a difference with minimal effort.

Hash tag with #magicalmoment if you try it out and experience it!
Let me know of how it affected you.

Please share this idea with whomever you think would like it!

Day 74 (Stop Regretting Now: The Only Tip You Need)

“There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold.” – Page 8 of The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Have you ever regretted a certain mistake or decision you made?

Mistake example:

I advertised my free newsletter yesterday. For some reason, it felt really odd that no one was signing up. However, I was expecting a few people because they re-tweeted it and liked that post.

One problem: The forms to subscribe didn’t work. When the subscribed button was pressed, nothing would happen. Since those forms weren’t working, it was impossible for anyone to sign up.

Now that’s pretty embarrassing and frustrating. On top of that, it’s a mistake that cost me subscribers.

However, I did the only thing I could do, which was to fix it once I discovered the issue. So, yes, it is fixed now.

My brain was about to explode with regret but it’s a big waste of time.

Regret is a dangerous state to stay in because it’s disappointment of past events.

——
Decision example:

There is no right and wrong with decisions. There are maybe preferred outcomes but there is no right and wrong.

How can you ever think a decision or mistake is wrong when you don’t have the second life to compare the other decision or mistake to?

Back on Day 15, I recall regretting not talking to someone I was really interested in.

We talked in the coffee line at university briefly. I asked her about why she had such a huge sketchbook and she told me she was an art major. She had to sketch people in the coffee area. We also had an inside joke because we ended up getting the same granola bar-like creation from the coffee shop. Then she paid for hers and I paid for mine.

I had a good 15 second window to continue the conversation.

However, fear got me and I didn’t do it.

For a couple of days, I asked myself why I didn’t continue the conversation. I started regretting my decision.

I started thinking, “Matt, what if she became a great friend? What if she networked me to amazing art people?”

I failed to take the open door of opportunity.

——

At this point you can say that this was a failure.

That’s wrong. That’s where regret starts getting its power from.

There is no right and wrong with decisions. There are maybe preferred outcomes but there is no right and wrong.

How can you ever think a decision or mistake is wrong when you don’t have the second life to compare the other decision or mistake to?

In this life, the opportunity came and went. This would allow me to make sure to minimize those missed chances.

But what if I talked to her? Maybe good things would come of that.

But this isn’t like a choose your own path novel. The alternative route will always be blank because we don’t have another life to find out.

Find the positive in the choice you did make, no matter what.

There’s no reset. There’s no restart. There’s no backup life.

Life is like acting out a play without any practice.

So the only thing you have to do to stop regretting: Accept the good in your decisions without comparing it to any other alternative; we’d never know the result of that alternative because we don’t have the second life to find out its results. We just know the result of the decision we did make.

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Who Else Wants Infinite Opportunity?

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Prompt #16: Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new?

Here’s the background first:

A couple of days ago, I hung out with an old friend that I hadn’t hung out with for a year. We walked around San Francisco and saw the San Francisco Giants ballpark, many tourists at Pier 39, and the Bay Bridge (the lesser known bridge in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge).

That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t catch up with her on Facebook a month or so back because we had lost touch. She was just sitting there on my Facebook chat, so I decided, “Why don’t I give it a shot?”

I said in my mind, “It would be cool to re-connect with her.”

Let’s rewind a year. It was May 2010. This was before I learned of Rejection Therapy or anything like that.

I was in my final semester at a community college. I was in Astronomy class. There were only about 30 people in that class. It was a strange class because it was at one corner of a green-tech building on Thursday evenings. It was 3 hours once a week, so that was a grind to make it through the whole evening without zoning out.

I remember always seeing these two girls at the back, having a fun time.

I didn’t think much of it for much of the duration of the class.

So after seeing them in many classes, I found the two of them just waiting around in the lobby of the building after class one day. I was about to head on home. Right before I exited the building, something in my brain told me something good would come if I talked to them.

So I turned back.

I introduced myself and talked to them.

It was a bit awkward. I was talking fast. They were replying slyly. We continued chattering away for a couple of minutes. I asked them why they were waiting in the lobby anyways. They told me they had to be picked up because one of the girls’ car was in the shop.

So their ride arrived and they both told me it was nice meeting them. I did the same.

Then I walked to my car. I was happy that I took a chance to talk to them.

Fast forward one week once class ended. I realized that one of them didn’t go to class. So I talked to the other girl.

We talked in the lobby for ten minutes about her pets, both of our reasons for taking this class, our common sports teams, and why she always wore sweaters with school universities on them.

After this, I asked her for her Facebook and she gladly gave it.

We talked well after that and ended up hanging out one time.

Then we lost touch because summer came and we both got busy.

Fast forward to today.

That’s why I practice the two-chance rule. You never know if catching up with someone is around the corner if you put in another attempt to connect with them.

I couldn’t write about any of this if I took the safe path and went straight home that evening last year.

——

So how can we avoid the safe path?

How do we create infinite opportunity?

There are an infinite amount of possibilities around you.

There are an infinite number of potential comments, stories, issues, greetings, gestures, emotions, that we could share with anyone around us at any time.

-At the bus stop.
-At the coffee shop.
-At the park.
-Walking on the street.
-Anywhere where humans are.

Talk!

You’ll have no excuses left because I’ll try to cut through all of the possible rationalizations here:

-The magic word is: “Hi.”
-The timing is: never perfect, so do it.
-The amount of times second chances come around is: too little to depend on, so do it.
-The feeling of awkwardness/nervousness/anxiety is: a stupid learned fear that you can overcome, so do it.
-The control is: doing the best you can and letting others have a positive, negative, or neutral reaction, so do it.
-The crowd is: neutral unless it entertains them or indifferent, so do it.
-The tiny chance they care is: their right, so let them have it as long as it doesn’t harm you, so do it.
-The stigma of “creeper” or “overly aggressive” is: their perception, so do the best you can to make them change that perception.
-The ability to cure boredom is: a great (and cheap) way to break the monotony of life, so do it.
-The chance to network is: awesome because that gives you more opportunities, so do it.
-The traits of charisma, confidence, and use of the right tone is: something you can learn with repeated exposure, so do it.
-The concept of success is: putting yourself out there, no matter what the outcome is, so do it.

Whatever that “it” is, make the opportunity count by doing it.

——

What Everybody Ought to Know About Social Conditioning

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of “crackpot” than the stigma of conformity. – Thomas John Watson, Sr. (Founder of IBM)

Prompt #10*: What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message right now to 1 million people, what would you say?

“Bend social conditioning rules.”

There are written laws that we are supposed to follow. Don’t kill people for example. That’s a rule people should follow. Killing people is bad.

However, bending social conditioning rules?

That’s fair game.

So here’s the definition of social conditioning: “Social conditioning refers to the sociological process of training individuals in a society to act or respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within society.”

The main word there is: training.

I’m pretty sure that everyone has a variation of what their ideal life would be. Also, our ideal dreams can quickly change too. If people from all walks of life do what they want then it could break down stereotypes.

The stereotypes are there to package people into labels.

During our evolutionary times, we had to label things. We had to understand that some animals were going to eat us for dinner. We couldn’t shake their hand and learn about their individual personality. We had to label them quickly.

So that’s why labeling continues today. It goes back to the fabric of our ancestry, which is why strangers are also the root of fear.

It seems like we’re taught from the second we are born that the world is dangerous. Don’t ever let your guard down.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Through my personal rejections, while there are the crazies out there, most people are polite and kind when you talk to them.

I don’t like compartmentalizing people in any form: race, gender, subculture. I understand there may be a need to sometimes (when there is danger) but for the most part, I turn it off. It only does harm.

Do you want to stay under the constraints of social conditioning? Or do you want to live how you want to live, like what you want to like, and date who you want to date?

Then bend the rules to your favor by talking to whomever you want to. Give them their personal space and autonomy as well but give yourself a chance to talk to them. Maybe they walk away. Maybe they become your best friend. Maybe you have a good conversation and never talk again. Maybe you date them.

Possibilities begin at the first hello.

Edited: 3/6/15