(I found this fantastic picture by Zerflin on art.zerflin.com)
I’ve always been a smiley person. Even when I’m miserable, crying and being given anti-depressants by the GP, I’ll muster up some kind of raised lip position. It’s my default expression, especially if I’m one on one with someone.
But smiling at strangers on the street it’s a different matter. In London it’s just not the done thing. Not the done thing at all. People look at you like you’re crazy/stupid/after something – or they just plain ignore you.
But as part of rejection therapy I’ve been going for it. I’ve been smiling at at least three strangers a day for the last month.
I won’t lie, it’s quite hard. A lot of people look at you like you’re nuts, some pretend they haven’t seen you and others look like you’re about to nick their bag. On days when you’re feeling a bit low, these snubs feel like a personal rejection. Especially, of course, when it’s guys that do it. Then I do my usual though spiral of ‘he thinks you fancy him/he thinks you’re ugly/he thinks…’
Hello! How’s everyone? Did you have a nice weekend?
I celebrated by drinking lots of wine. As per usual. This is bad because enlightened self-help lovers don’t seek happiness at the bottom of a bottle – but it’s also good because I’m more likely to do rejection therapy when I’m drinking.
This time it was asking to join the band, pull a pint and ride a stranger’s motorcycle. Hurrah! I’m back with bells on…
It all happened on Friday night, when I went out with my sister and her best friend. We had a very civilised dinner (well, not that civilised but there was no rejection therapy involved) and then we went to a pub, which happened to have a jazz band playing.
Thank you so much for the lovely messages on Friday – they were really kind, especially the ones which told me to spend the week watching crap TV as an antidote to self-improvement. It turned out to be too sunny to do that but I wholeheartedly approve of the sentiment.
Thanks also to the reader who told me he liked me more for being knackered, grumpy and fed up with it all. I promise you that knackered, grumpy and fed up is my natural state but it’s frowned upon in self-help land so I’ve been keeping those moments to myself. I’ll let them all hang out in the future…
But for now, my self-help loathing is sort of over and I’m back on the saddle again by asking total strangers if I can play tennis with them and shoot some hoops.
Well the last couple of weeks have been a struggle. We’re now the middle of May and I HAVE NOT BEEN DOING REJECTION THERAPY properly and I’m beating myself up over it. Shock horror – finding ways to be rejected everyday is hard, stressful and uncomfortable. So I just haven’t been doing it. I’ve been making excuses, saying I’ll double up tomorrow or that I’m too busy with journalism work etc.
Then I did what I always do when I’m unhappy/overwhelmed: I got sick.
I’ve spent most of this week in bed with a cold, hiding from rejection and anything self-help related.
I think I’m just tired.
The four months of jumping out planes/wallowing in my bank statements/chatting up strangers has taken its toll. The high points have been really high but it’s all quite intense.
I am spun out from waking up in the morning and thinking ‘how can I get rejected today?’, I have stopped looking at my bank accounts and telling myself my life is ‘full of abundance.’ It’s not. It’s full of debt. As for the affirmations and belief that ‘it’s all happening perfectly’, well, that’s gone out the window too.
Last Friday night and I’m in the supermarket. My tummy is rumbling but I’m not looking for something for dinner, or even a bottle of wine, I’m looking for a man. Yup. Again.
This rejection therapy month appears to be turning into a ‘throw yourself at men and see what happens’ month.
And before you ask about The Greek, he is now back in Greece for the summer. He’s messaging me from Starbucks in Athens and I’m replying from whatever coffee shop I’m in but I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. He’s a lovely man and I so grateful that we met but our lives are in different places. Literally.
Because I’m now a weird self-help junkie I believe that our paths were meant to cross and that we both made each other’s lives better but that doesn’t have to mean we stay together forever. Look at me being all open and New Age-y…
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted but in the meantime I want to keeping facing my fears when it comes to men.
My lovely friend Adrian got married at the weekend to an equally lovely girl called Stephanie. For many years Adrian had a checklist of what his perfect woman would be like and despite countless speed dates/internet dates, he never found one that ticked off everything.
We worried that he would never meet his perfect woman and that his standards were unrealistically high. Until he met Stephanie. I wasn’t there but the story goes that the first time he took her to meet his friends they went to a bar that played hip hop and served ribs. She ate the ribs and knew the lyrics to every hip hop track that came on.
Our friends’ words to Adrian were simple: ‘Marry her.’
So I saw the Greek again and it was lovely. We went to a pub in Hampstead (a pretty, old part of London) and then got dinner. He paid. I don’t know if this makes me a crappy person but this kind of thing now means a lot to me – not because I want a man to pay my way but because it feels like a sign of old-fashioned respect.
Just as we did the first time we met, we chatted for hours. He is clever and well read and a very good listener too. It was easy and he made me laugh.
I won’t go into the ins and outs of all our conversation because I’m not sure he’d like that but he said some very nice things, which made me feel embarrassed at the time but which I ran over and over in my head when I got home.
He said that the day before I came up to him in the coffee shop he’d been talking to a friend about his ideal woman. Then ‘this beautiful woman’ walked up to his table and seemed to be everything he had on his list. ‘And that was just your appearance. Then we started talking and it got even better. I could not believe my luck,’ he said.
This one is short and sweet. Yesterday I went into a phone store to get a new charger. I told the three-year-old assistant hovering by the phones what I needed. He grabbed one and led me to the till where I struck up a bit of witty repartee:
Me: I don’t know what I do with them, I keep buying them and leaving them places…
Him: Silent bar a look that seemed to say ‘Madam, I could not care where you leave them, why are you talking to me?’
Me: Anyway, I’m really good customer, is there any chance of a discount?
Him: A look of panic. He wasn’t expecting this. He pauses for a second then: ‘Er, no madam, unfortunately I’m not able to do that.’