In Week 1, I got my feet wet with some silly and meaningless rejections. In Week 2, I was more bold and asked for some rather unorthodox things – some of which I got, many I didn’t. In Week 3, I got serious. I didn’t want this turning into “what kind of crazy things will Jason ask for next?”
This week, I want to be reflective. I’ll recap some more of my rejection & rejection attempts, share what’s happened since I started all this and offer some lessons I’ve learned. And plug the seriously awesome Rejection Therapy Cards.
The last two weeks I’ve focused on getting more “meaningful” rejections, aka rejections for things I really wanted or wanted to offer. This means that there are less “silly” rejections (though still a few) but I think they better served the goal of this challenge.
- I walked down my street a couple days and said “Good Morning!” to everyone I walked passed. A lot of people totally blew me off.
- One time I even carried a bucket of candy and offered it to people – which very few people took me up on. 
- I met a guy on Caltrain who worked on the freight trains that ran from South San Francisco and asked if he’d let me ride in one of the box cars sometime. Nope
- Someone asked me for directions and I offered to walk them there – but they didn’t need it.
- I asked a coffee shop if I could get a photo of myself pretending to make coffee and they let me do it! Then I asked if I could check out their upstairs office – and they turned me down.
- I offered the seat next to mine to a guy who was squatting on the stairs on Caltrain but he didn’t want it.
- I was playing undercover capture the flag and I asked some of the opposing players if they could NOT tag me. Nope.
- I asked the bartender at Chevy’s if he could personally make me the “Guac-My-Way” gucamole. Apparently it wasn’t in his job description.
- I told a few friends about a web app idea I had – and they both flat out rejected it. They didn’t think it was helpful or that anyone would use it. 
I originally called these “rejection attempts” but really they’re more like places where I was maybe apprehensive and could have gotten rejected. The list is as important, if not more, as the list of rejections. You learn to get more comfortable requesting help and doing things that you normally would shy away from. Sometimes you can be surprised by what people are willing to offer up.
- On various occasions, I asked people to help me do things in the gym like move weights, work in on a piece of equipment, etc
- I asked if I could borrow my friend’s brand new car and he was cool with it.
- I invited someone I had recently met to a house party.
- Even though I’m not signed up for the special treatment, I got free towels from the gym on several occasions.
- I put my arm around a girl I like and she leaned in.
- I asked the waitress for the pepper grinder after she “peppered” our table and she let me keep it.
- I asked if I could get a ride down to LA for Thanksgiving and I got the thumbs up.
Rejection Therapy has really captured a lot of people’s interest – it certainly got mine. As some of you have noticed, these posts have gotten traction and sparked discussion on Hacker News. A lot of people have emailed me saying they want to do the challenge. The Facebook group is getting pretty interesting. I was put in touch with a reporter from SF Chronicle who is doing a story on it. Jason Comely (the creator of Rejection Therapy) and I are even starting a podcast (episode 1 here).
The whole thing has been really awesome and aside from a few people who now think I’m a total nutcase, it’s been really positive. I’m glad I gave it a shot and I only hope my experiences can inspire more people to push their boundaries and try things they otherwise wouldn’t.
Fear of rejection was once very important to our well-being. Human beings lived for hundreds of thousands of years as tribes of hunter-gatherers. If you found yourself rejected by your tribe/village, you were most likely going to freeze or starve to death. There was a good reason to be afraid of it.
Rejection today is much more benign. If a girl decides not to give you her number, if a college doesn’t admit you, if your raise request isn’t granted, so what? Nothing dramatically bad will happen to you. Your ability to live a happy and successful life is virtually unimpeded.
The idea behind the Rejection Therapy is that life much more open-ended that many people think. If you have an idea – try it. If you have a question – ask it. If you have a desire – pursue it.  The downside is relatively low, but the upside could be massive.
I’m also more ok about asking for help.
I love to help others but I often avoid asking for help. This isn’t really due to a fear of rejection, but the challenge has made me more comfortable with asking for things I need. People get satisfaction from helping others – so why not give them the opportunity to feel good about themselves?
Ultimately the challenge has helped me take things less personally.
I realized that people rejected me not because there was something fundamentally wrong with me as a human being, but because they just weren’t interested in the offer I presented them. The rejection is probably 20% about the content of my offer and 80% about their mindset, current situation, and other factors way outside of my control.
So go ahead and get rejected. I dare you. Some awesome things just might happen.
 (started the Challenge rather abruptly) I have to give a shout out to my friend Christine, who is the reason I first discovered and thought to try Rejection Therapy in the first place.
 (rejecting my web app idea) You might say that they didn’t reject ME, they rejected MY IDEA. But really, part of the lesson here is that people are almost never rejecting you as a person – as a human being. They are rejecting your offer/actions/request. And you don’t have to take that personally.
 (if you have a desire – pursue it) And if you want help doing Rejection Therapy, let me know. I’m not going to reject you. =) Email me (jasonyshen[at]gmail[dot]com) and let’s talk. Oh – and get the cards too.