The Rejection Challenge

“Actually, could I get it for free?”

That is what I asked the cashier at CoffeeHouse, Rice’s student run coffee shop the last time I ordered some coffee. Suffice to say, his wide smile transformed into a very perplexed and shocked expression. You can probably guess what his answer was.

Recently, I listened to a talk by Judy Le, from TakeRoot, on how you could build authentic relationships as opposed to the dreadful and infamous “networking.”

One interesting piece of advice I heard was keeping yourself at the edge of your comfort zone. There was an experiment done for this, called the Rejection Challenge. The idea is you try to get rejected once a day for a period of time. And not necessarily in a dating way.

The example given was simply asking for free coffee when you ordered some. Most of us instantly get a little anxious thinking about that, right? You don’t want to put someone in the position of choosing between those two. But upon closer inspection, it’s honestly not a big deal. The only trouble you are causing is asking a question, and the best part is, sometimes, you actually get the ridiculous thing you ask for.

The real scary part of asking is the possibility of getting rejected. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable, and we don’t like when things don’t go our way. But the world isn’t always gonna be in our favor. In fact, often, we’ll think it sucks. However, if we start to perceive rejection and failure as a good thing, as an opportunity to push the boundaries of your comfort zone, as a catalyst to stimulate improvement and growth, maybe asking for free coffee won’t be so bad after all. And then, maybe striking up a conversation with a complete stranger won’t be so bad either. The beauty of this challenge is that there doesn’t seem to be an upper limit for improvement. You can always improve on how comfortable you are in your own skin, and this is key to building authentic relationships — being comfortable just being you.

I looked at Jia Jiang and his challenge, and I’m going to try to use it to guide my own challenge and journey to improving how comfortable I am with the things that scare me most.

After all, how does one grow other than through discomfort?

Engineering @ Coda. I like optimistic dreaming and deep thinking. Exploring, learning, and laughing through life. spencerchang.me

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