by Niall Doherty

I’m out for the evening in a random city. All by my lonesome.

I’ve been working online all day and now I find myself craving some human interaction, jonesing for a conversation of the non-virtual variety.

But there’s that Resistence1.

I’m reluctant to strike up a conversation with a stranger. The excuses come easily to my mind:

  • They might not speak English
  • They might think I’m weird
  • They might be weird
  • That might be her boyfriend

And so on.

But I know deep down that every excuse stems from this: I’m afraid to fail.

I’m afraid that I’ll try connect with a stranger and they’ll reject me. And then I’ll feel like a worthless fool, all alone in a strange city.

But before trundling too far down that dark corridor of negative thought, I remind myself that there is a way out.

All I need to do, is fail on purpose.

With that in mind, I approach a random stranger. There’s no pressure. I don’t have to impress this person. I don’t have to connect with them. I’m allowing myself to fail. I can say or do anything I want, have fun, amuse myself.

If I get rejected, it’s mission accomplished. I’ll have failed on purpose.

And after I fuck it up, I’ll walk away with a smile on my face, reassured that the world is indifferent to my failure (it keeps on spinning regardless), reassured that it doesn’t matter what one or a dozen random strangers think of me.

Having relearned this lesson, the next conversation will be easier. And the one after that will be easier again.

Fast forward to later that same evening and you’ll find me firing on all social cylinders, assuming rapport with everyone I meet, easily making new friends, wondering what the hell I was so scared of just a few hours before.

Show 1 footnote

  1. Capital R, with a hat tip to Steven Pressfield.