By Emmanuel Ponce
It’s Friday. You’re sitting at your regular spot having a brew with your buddy after a long day at work. The hurried waiter dashes by your table, and turning your head to watch him go into the kitchen, your eye catches the cute brunette sitting at the bar having a drink with her friend. Unexpectedly, she looks over your direction and makes eye contact, even adding a playful smirk. Her body shifts slightly on the stool, she crosses her legs, and—what’s this?—while twirling her hair, she sends another quick, reassuring glance from afar. Green light, champ. Go introduce yourself. Hell, your friend’s just scrolling through his Instagram, anyway. But those all too familiar voices manifest in your mind:
She’s with her friend. She probably doesn’t want to be bothered.
I don’t even know what to say after I introduce myself. It’ll be too awkward.
She probably has a boyfriend.
You look over one more time, hoping for just one more obvious invitation. She’s not there. She and her friend vanished. In their place is a guy in a business suit leaning over the bar struggling to get the bartender’s attention.
This scenario is familiar to a lot of men. Why is it that so many of them don’t take the risk and approach a woman, whatever social setting they may be in? Fear of rejection.
Adrian Desmond is no stranger to this fear. As early as elementary school, Adrian first experienced rejection with his first-time crush, Tori Tizzard. Adrian spent years holding onto this crush on Tori without uttering a word to her, feeling he had nothing going for him, both physically and intellectually, and thinking he had to be somebody he wasn’t. Fear of rejection, then, originated not only at an early age, but also created mounting pressures on him that hindered the growing confidence he was developing from his precocious music abilities.
With no strong father figure in his life, Adrian relied on the tough love he received from his mother, his older brother acting as a role model, and even learning from confident male characters on after-school television shows to finally start breaking through his insecurities by the end of high school. Approaching women was still daunting as ever, though. However, at the time of its early stages, online dating offered an alternative and a way to perhaps mitigate that fear.
“We need start looking inwards instead of out there into the web of infinite lies and truths”
Detailed in his interview, Adrian discusses how online dating was a crutch, an initial escape from real-world rejection with women. He says that the first step to overcoming that fear is to truly believe in yourself, to believe down to your core that you have something to offer to the world, and as long as you have that, you can take the leap and make the approach.
“I wasn’t willing to put myself out there just because of the feeling of getting burned”
Within the first few minutes of meeting Johnson Khamo, you may get the impression that he’s not the type of guy who has issues approaching women. Despite his outgoing personality, Johnson hasn’t always been like that, especially around women. Like Adrian, Johnson’s first experience with the fear of rejection traces back to an early age—a girl he wanted to ask out to a dance in high school, but rejected him because she only saw him as a friend. Even after high school, Johnson still felt timid, and was not willing to take those risks of asking a girl out, even if she showed interest in him.
This state of shyness, however, soon dissipated as Johnson opened himself up more to his closest role models: his older brother and father. Most teenagers keep to themselves when it comes to personal topics, but for Johnson, his family transcends such notions; he loves talking and being together with them. When it came to the fear of rejection with women, Johnson’s older brother told him, “It happens. Nobody’s perfect for anyone. You just have to keep going.” And from that advice, that brotherly wisdom, Johnson began to find a new confidence—one that would radiate in his everyday conversations with people and ease that fear of taking that unavoidable first step to approaching women.
In Johnson’s interview, a more complete account of how his experiences influenced his fear of rejection is discussed, and, at the end, offers his steps to approaching a woman, whether it’s at the bar, coffee shop, or bookstore. Watch out, ladies!