in Daily Post, Experiments, Insights, Rejections

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.

#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.

#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.

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

#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.

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.