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The fear of rejection
Imagine yourself on a warm summer day, strolling down the sidewalk of your favorite city, slow and serene. Just you and your thoughts.
Just you and the smells of the shops and restaurants that you pass. Just you and the sound of traffic. Just you and the strangers around you, behind you, beside you, toward you.
You feel calm, like a rock in the middle of a stream, as the people part and flow around you. You feel the warmth of the sun on your face and you are glad you have nowhere to be and nothing in particular that needs your attention. You are not doing anything. You are just... being.
The air is alive, electric. Possibilities are everywhere and you breathe deeply, absorbing the smells and the sights and the sounds.
And then... you see her.
She is casually walking toward you, stopping occasionally to look in shop windows, and she is beautiful to you. She wears a simple dress, unadorned and soft, floating about her as she moves, with the sunlight shining through it, tracing her shape, her form. It's that kind of dress.
Time slows down and you catch your breath. She is getting closer, unaware that you are watching her, absorbed in her own reverie, window shopping. It is obvious she is not in a hurry. And now she is even closer.
Here's the question: what will you do?
What will you do?
You know exactly what you want to do. You want to stop her as she is about to pass and say something charming and confident. You want to smile and ask her name. You want to ask her to join you for coffee around the corner. And if she joins you for coffee, you want her to sit with you, fully attentive, enthralled by your easy manner and compelling conversation, as you regale her with stories and fun and witty repartee. You want her to be so intrigued by you that she offers you her phone number - without you even asking. And then you want to call her tonight! And the next night. And the next. You want to tell her she is beautiful to you, and that you can't wait to see her again.
You want to do all those things.
But you can't. You can't... because you are afraid.
You are afraid that if you try to stop her and say hello, she will smile a weak smile at you and then keep going. Or she will ignore you. Or she will shake her head and avert her eyes and duck around you.
You are afraid that if she does stop and she does tell you her name, then you will draw a blank, and you will look foolish and awkward as you desperately try to think of something interesting to say.
You are afraid that even if you don't draw a blank and you manage to engage her in some semblance of conversation and you ask her to join you for coffee, she will decline and say she has a boyfriend. Or she will laugh at you. Or she will look you dead in the eye and say, "No, not interested." And walk away.
You are afraid that even if she does agree to join you for coffee that, well, maybe she is just bored and has nothing better to do. Besides, you certainly are not her type anyway. After all, you are sure you are too short for her and you are sure she likes a different hair color than yours and you are sure you aren't good looking enough for her.
And then even if she appears to like you, and she does ask you to call her and she gives you her number, then you are afraid you will have no idea what to do with it. Should you call her right away? Should you wait three days? A week? You have no idea.
And then even if you do manage to get up enough courage to call her, how should you act? How should you sound? Should your tone be upbeat, fun and carefree, or suave, assured and direct? Or should you just be yourself? And, for that matter, how do you be yourself anyway? Why would she ever be interested in you being yourself?
And finally, if you do compliment her and tell her she looks beautiful today in her simple dress that floats about her when she moves, then you are afraid she will view it as supplication. No, you can't compliment her. Instead, you must act distant and cool and aloof and uninterested, because if you don't, she will think that you are needy and clingy and too available. You hate acting like that - why can't you just be natural and real and not play these games? Ah, but if you don't, you are sure you will lose.
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