(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…’
My latest from the front line of rejection therapy? It’s coffee related. Again. Even my self-help life is very limited..
Anyway, on Monday I was in my local coffee shop and asked for a free coffee. Here’s what happened.
I went up to the till.
‘Do you want to pay?’ said lovely owner.
‘Not really,’ I said, with a smile. ‘Can I have it for free?’
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.
This is just a PS to The Greek Part Two. (So The Greek Part Three?)
Thank you so much to everybody who sent me such lovely messages yesterday, it really is the coolest thing to hear from you. It makes my day.
It seems that the line that resonated with most people was when the Greek told me that he approaches a girl if she smiles three times and me realising that I NEVER smile at men.
My conclusion: I’ve spent my life thinking the girls who get the guys do so because they’re prettier and skinnier – but maybe they’re just smiling more!’
But it’s hard.