Just a piece about rejection therapy I did yesterday on the subway. The language might be a bit hyperbolic, but I was kind of on-edge last night. It seemed like it might be a fun story, I want to get better at writing, and gooey self-disclosure seems to be in vogue, so I posted it. If you don't like reading about feelings, then don't continue.

Hope you enjoy,


I felt electric. It was as if my blood was made up of cool and charged water, chilling my bones as it energized my flesh, making me feel like at any moment my body could snap into doing something else. I got out of my seat, and lurched over to one of the hand holds in front of me. Reflecting, I decided that I would be in a more central position if I stood in front of the exit door, and my body swayed over there.

My head was a bit foggy, but my path was clear. The outside world or my thoughts were racing by, but I could couldn't tell which. The girl who had glanced at me while I was sitting down looked up. I noticed a few other eyes glancing up towards me while I was walking, and felt like I was at risk for shattering into a bunch of pieces. I was ready for anything, but there was only one thing I was thinking of doing.

“Excuse me.

“This probably sounds kind of creepy.

“But would anyone like to have a conversation?”

The train stopped moving.

I intended to look around, but I'm not convinced that I actually did. I wanted to have some time to see other people's reactions, but as far I can tell, I could only look at an oblique angle through the window that was above where I was sitting when I was reading.

I had actually expected someone to say yes. I looked around expectantly to the side of people who did not fit my demographic expectations of a person who would actually say yes. A few went back to their distractions.

“Okay, no problem. Bye then.”

I semi-purposefully turned around and walked off the train. My legs were shaking in the way they did back when I was scared of public speaking, my knees feeling like rounding errors in their control code was threatening to make them send my shin in all sorts of nasty directions, while the tensed muscles in my leg seemed to hold it all together. The world did not end. Weird.

I felt like throwing up. Luckily, the sensation was blocked in my chest by a collision with some coldhot coming from my arms. They seemed to be really in control. My chest just felt sort of warm.

A horde of thoughts about what I could have done differently accosted me. “You should've focused on individuals, made direct eye contact no that would be creepy”, “Why did you do this on a metro? People don't talk to other people here, just go to UMD or a party or something and you'll win so hard”, “I know you're proud that you actually followed through, but you should actually think at all beforehand to increase the probability of success”, "Come on it wasn't even that big of a deal, you just said something weird to about 15 people at once, I bet most of them didn't hear you anyway". I thanked them for their contribution, and dismissed them.

My heart sank a little, but not as much as my first rejection. My pride caught it -- I had done exactly what I had intended to do.

I glanced around the terminal and smiled at a few maintenance workers. I sat down and pulled out my kindle.

It was quite the rejection.

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4 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 4:26 PM

I love rejection therapy. That's one of the few exercises that has fast immediate tangible results on your social outlook, and it's just pure fun!

Upvoted for doing something difficult because you believed it would benefit you. Congratulations!

Out of curiosity -- what would you do if you "lucked" into choosing the car with either a crazy or an excessively trusting individual on it and they accepted your proposal?

On reflection, if I was on the metro and someone boarded and did what you did, I would probably put P(rejection therapy) > P(crazy person) and be inclined to accept the offer out of a general contrarian streak.

I would have talked to them and tried to practice NVC.

Also ask why they said yes.