Match of the Year: Me Versus Fear (Round 1)

Welcome to the main event.

I put myself in a corner where I had nowhere to turn back to. Fear is now my main opponent and there are no safe escape routes. All escape routes would make me obtain a label of “hypocrite” or “chickening out” at the last second. I’m in the corner where I see fear across from me.

Before the fight with fear, I ended up meeting @JasonShen because he was featured in the SFGate article that would tell me about Rejection Therapy. Therefore, that article has brought me to this fight with fear eight months later.

We talked about why we both did Rejection Therapy, our mindset to being detached to an outcome, and other topics that came and went. I had some awesome French Toast to get me going.

On top of that I took the leftovers.

After that, he went off to do his own thing and I went off to start fighting the fear.

I walked for half an hour to where the mall is to find more people. There were hundreds of people in the mall’s food plaza! Then I realized, I totally forgot to bring the sketchpad, which was going to be used in this bout with fear.

I could’ve either left right then and there or could’ve changed it up. I decided to change it up.

I took a train to San Francisco’s Mission District. San Francisco is one of those cities that has different neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own type of people, own type of style, and own type of feel to it. Within the Mission District, there’s a lot of different neighborhoods in there too.

For this round, I decided to walk from 16th and Valencia St. to 26th and Valencia St., where my favorite cookie place was.

Along the way, I would attempt as many Random Acts of Courage as my body would allow.

This area isn’t the most populated area.
The funny breakdown would probably be 75% hipster, 25% older folks, and a guy named Matt as the only Asian guy in sight. (There were actually a few but it was few and far between when I personally went there today.)

I chose this area because it was sparse enough to start the fight with fear but not an empty lot where I would have a hard time finding people.

So there’s the backdrop of Round 1.
(The numbered list is 1-50 taken mostly from the Random Acts of Courage website).
I’ll count all of the failures and successes. If it’s a failure, I’ll try it again in the next round.

#2 Say hello to five strangers as you pass them on the street.
1. (To a redhead female): Hello, how’s it going? Her: (very muted) good, how are you? Me: Good.
2. (To a gentleman outside of his car): Hello, have a good one!
3. (To someone walking his dog): *Nods* Hello.
4. (To another girl at the crosswalk, both stopped): Hey, how’s it going? Her: Good. *silence* Me: So why do you have two bags? Her: went to the gym. *silence*Me: So are you from here? Her: Yes. *silence* Then I let it go. More on that in a bit.
5. (To someone walking towards me): Hello. *no response* I laughed after.
Success.

#3 Make eye contact with a stranger and don’t look away until they do first.
-I attempted this 32 times and only 7 people made eye contact with me. I looked them directly in the eye until they looked away. I wonder if it’s the California culture where people are more relaxed or if it’s just people walking around not looking at me.
Success.

#4 Convince a stranger to have their photo taken with you.
-There was a girl with purple hair that was walking on the other side of the street. I decided to talk to her and ask her if I could be in a photo with her. You could laugh at how awkward it was. She wanted to say no but couldn’t, so I told her, “It’s alright. Have a good one!” and I went off to more walking.
Failure because she was creeped out.

#10 Strike up a conversation with a homeless person.
-Remember those leftovers I had? I gave it to a homeless person and started to strike up a conversation. “Hello, would you like French Toast?” She didn’t reply. She simply made sure the food was okay and took it. Then she steered away from me. I didn’t think it was rude because she seemed to be hungry.
Failure but at least I made good use of those leftovers.

#13 Have a 2-minute conversation with an imaginary friend in public.
-I kept talking to two people who were both trying to encourage me to do my best. “Hey, how’s it going Matt?” “Good you?” “Good, you just gotta do your best here because this fear shit sucks alright?” “Most definitely” A few people walked by and didn’t care. It just proves they don’t give a damn.
Success.

#14 Wave and smile at someone you don’t know.
-No response because they weren’t sure if it was to them.
Success.

#23 Haggle over the price of something.
-I went to a shop that I’ve always liked but was way overpriced. So I wanted to buy a $4 notepad but asked them to lower it to $2. They said they couldn’t lower it beyond $4, so I decided to leave the item and went on my way.
Success. I haggled.

#28 Ask for a freebie at a store or coffee shop.
-I went into a coffee shop (I can’t quite recall the name, as it wasn’t Starbucks) and they said they couldn’t do that. Twice. So I just paid for a small coffee.
Success. I asked for a freebie.

#39 Give a stranger a genuine, elaborate compliment.
-There was a guy who was wearing an Electric Wizard (a sludge doom/stoner band) vest and I complimented that it was awesome because there was a cool contrast of red and black going on.
-A couple of people were sitting on the bench and I told them “nice shades, liking the blue and black, you two match.”
Total success.

#49 Random Act of Kindness
-I also asked a group of people if they wanted their photo all together as a group but they declined.
Failure.

I finished ten tasks and was successful on seven of them.

I had a couple of missed opportunities that I didn’t do because I wasn’t damned or because the fear had me. This wasn’t going to be an easy fight.

I’m pretty sure I ended up doing ten of the easiest tasks, but this is Round 1. I gave fear a few jabs and it gave me a few back.

After I got my cookies, I walked back to the train station and went home. I had a huge headache, my body was in full fatigue mode (the introvert nature was kicking in), and I was to the point where sleepiness would get in the way.

I noticed three issues that I need to overcome in Round 2 and beyond.

-I have a much tougher time speaking to people if it’s more than 1 person (pretty much any group). I’ll work on that next time. (E.g. I was going to do #9 Ask for a phone number and #29 Ask a person you’re attracted to out on a date but the only girls I were attracted to were talking to another person or in the middle of a whole group.)

-I have the assumption mirror (made that up on the spot). It’s one of the worse habits you can ever have. An assumption mirror is when you’re not worried about yourself but worried for the person you’re speaking to, too much. It’s pretty much taking empathy to the wrong extreme. Me: “I think I’ll stop the talk here because I don’t want her to be totally creeped out.” It’s bad assumptions that are in my internal thinking and this needs to go away.

-I have to remember to not mind the static of looking different from this neighborhood of people; Even if the chances are reduced of success due to that, I’m not here just for success. I just want to get rid of the false comfort of doing nothing spectacular.

The bell rung.

Here’s your chance to leave a comment.

-If you were my boxing corner coach, what advice would you give me to help me finish the rest of the Random Acts of Courage?

Give me the helping hand before Round 2 starts. Stay tuned.

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.

——
If you liked this post and what I’m doing, please consider subscribing at the top of the website.
——
Thank you to everyone who helped me get the courage to go out there and hit ‘publish’ on this. You know who you are.

Day 36 (Fruit Gushers Enables Gushing Out Risk)

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” -Katharine Hepburn

There are so many rules to follow. You have to follow traffic lights. You have to follow speed limits. You have to follow dining etiquette. You have to follow social conditioning. However, take a closer look at the final point. Do you really have to follow social conditioning?
I personally do not think so. As long as it does not harm anyone physically or emotionally, then I feel that anything is allowed as long as the goal benefits both parties. Take today as an example:

I walked onto campus at around 4:50pm. The coffee building was about to close. People were anxious to get out of class and finally have the weekend to look forward to. Luckily, I brought some Fruit Gushers to help me.

After looking around for a few minutes, I went into the coffee building. The clerk screamed from the top of his lungs, “Five minutes before we are closing!” I had to act quickly. I went up to a table where two people were talking to one another. I asked them if they wanted some Fruit Gushers. They looked totally stunned and declined. One of them questioned me, “Are you selling it?” I replied by telling him that I was giving it out for free. I asked him again if he wanted it. He declined me as well. I got rejected by both of them.

I went to the table next to them where 7 people were studying. At that point I could feel the adrenaline coming but I carried on. “Hi everyone, does anyone here want a pack of Fruit Gushers?” They all looked stunned. One of them said, “Sure.” So I just threw a pack onto their table and went on my way. Interesting failed rejection because it reinforced how an assertive, loud voice makes everyone in a group pay attention.

Then the clock struck 5 o’clock.

There was a frenzy from some of the classrooms as hundreds of fellow students were darting out towards the bus or their bikes. They wanted to leave campus quickly to start their weekend.

I walked to the bus and was going to ask around 15 people if they wanted a pack but the anxiety hit hard. However, I did not quit. I went up to two guys who sat in the middle of the group and asked them if they wanted any. One of them said, “I know not to take candy from a stranger.” That was a total rejection.

For some reason, I did not take that sarcastic comment well. So I took a stroll for a few minutes to calm me down.

I saw another group of four people. I was not in the best mood but decided to do it anyways. I asked them if they wanted some Fruit Gushers. They all looked happy and smiled. One of the girls replied with, “I’ll take it.” Then the whole group said, “Thanks.” Then the girl asked me my name. I said Matt. So she replied with, “Thanks Matt.” As I was walking away, I overheard one of them say, “That was cute.” What a nice failed rejection. Not only did they accept my proposal, they also eased my worries from the previous encounter.

I walked to the other side of campus to catch the bus there. While waiting for the bus, I saw someone sitting on the bench. I decided to asked her for gum. Luckily she had some. (It ended up being an amazing piece of gum.) We talked about where she was from, where I was from, her major and what she wanted to do with it, where I lived at currently, the city where the campus is, and the weather. We started chatting on the bench and continued on the bus. Before my stop, I asked her for her facebook. She gave it to me. I got another failed rejection to end the day.