One of my goals this past year has been to learn how to better handle my fear of rejection. I wanted to work on it for three reasons: firstly, I am pivoting part of my business; secondly, I am not sure how well this shift will be taken by my community; lastly, I don’t want my moonshot ideas and work to be limited by my fears.
With that being said, I think I learned how to work with it better after this weekend at the Start Conference. At the Start Conference, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop led by Jia Jiang, known as the fearbuster master. In his workshop, I learned why most people fear rejection, how to prepare for them, and what to do after I experience being rejected. And as with all great master teachers, Jia didn’t end with a typical lecture and a Q & A. He had us test try his teachings through real life situations. Basically, he had us go out on the streets in the Dogpatch (if you don’t live in SF, it is an urban part of The City) and get down and dirty with being rejected.
For this part of the workshop, I decided to pair up with another student for additional support. My partner in crime - let’s call her Jane - found an opportunity to practice her fear of rejection before me. Jane ended up asking a sales lady at a boutique store if she could borrow - without paying upfront - a piece of jewerly. This jewerly piece would be for an event she was planning to attend that night. She promised the sales lady that she would return the item the next day. For a better picture of the situation, Jane was basically wearing her PJs. She got locked out her house that morning, without her keys and wallet. And she wanted to use the jewelry as an opportunity to dress up her 'casual' wardrobe. She explained this whole story to this nice and approachable sales lady.
As she was telling this story, I was internally cringing inside. This nice lady ended up politely rejecting Jane’s request. Then she promptly changed the topic of the conversation. Both ladies seemed at ease with staying in communication with each other, even after I almost had an invisible heart attack. Somehow, I felt the rejection all over my body, especially around my chest area.
After we explored the rest of the store and walked out with Jane, I asked her "So how did it go?" What I had meant to say was how did she not run out of the store after being rejected. In summary, she explained that she actually did experienced fear, but she didn’t let it affect her communication or her request.
After sensing such a strong emotion from just observing rejection, I started to psyche myself out of putting myself out there. I didn’t want to feel the same hurt and pain over again. But as I walked by a divey bar, I noticed a lady with beautiful hair - kinda like Jem and the Holograms - blond and light pink rocker stripes. Something I could appreciate, but would never do with my hair. I saw this situation as an opportunity to ask for a selfie and face my fear of rejection. I mean, who would accept such a random request from a stranger off the street and on a non-celebratory day?
My genuine excitement for her hairstyle overrode my fear of rejection. I stepped closer to the opened window, enough for her to notice me. Then I asked this 'Jem' if I could take a selfie with her because I loved her beautiful hair; trying hard not to sound like a weirdo. She learned towards my direction as she spun the top of a wooden chair next to her. As she twisted this chair around, I found myself looking at two cute french bulldogs - an adult and a puppy. Cuteness overload was in full effect. Wow! From the looks of it, it seemed like she had not heard my request. The bar was loud inside and people were buzzed… I rolled with her misunderstanding to get an opportunity to take a selfie with her pups.
What I learned from this experience is that facing my fear of rejection may never be easy. At the same time, if my purpose to face my fear of rejection comes from a place of love and joy, it will be easier to handle my fear. Plus, social accountability helps too.
Above all, facing my fear of rejection might bring me more joy in ways that I could not have imagined - like two cute french bulldogs.
Please let me know your thoughts about my story. I would love to hear what you think!
Lastly, I plan to post more videos on mindful movement. If you have any special topics you would like me to go over, please let me know!