opinion

Single & Fabulous? | 'Chat someone up? I'd rather jump out a plane'

Anthony Gilét learns to face his biggest fear: rejection.

2018-07-25

I could feel my hands clamming up. I braced myself. You’d have thought I was getting ready to jump out of a plane. Although I have done that before, and wasn’t half as terrified as I was now.

After all, falling to your death is one thing, but falling flat on your face asking a boy out, is a completely different ball game.

There is, after all, one glaring reason why there's so many single people in the world, and it has nothing to do with how much we drink, or how loose we are.

We've all seen enough mis-matched couples to know that, ultimately, there probably is someone out there for all of us, but what stops us from finding them - or at least approaching them - is our fear of rejection.

But is it rational?

It was my first time at a particular East London bar, and although I’d always suspected it was a decent resource for cute guys, I’d just never genuinely considered crossing the river to make eye contact with men and then never speak to them.

The boy that immediately caught my eye was peroxide blonde, wore a gold chain, and a Carhartt t-shirt with a small tear along the collar; just subtle enough to look like he’d be thrown around the room. Or council estate. Were baby-faced chavs the new wet dream?

After making eye contact long enough to know he was into me… all I had to do was get up and speak to him. Simple. That is, as simple as completing a Takeshi’s Castle assault course while blindfolded, wearing stilettos.

Truthfully, even those of us with stable self-esteems and a healthy self-image can find the feat of approaching a man daunting. Like, if the Gods really wanted to challenge Hercules, they should’ve just got him to chat-up a lad in a gay bar. Medusa might be able to turn you to stone with one stare, but a queer can turn you to therapy by igniting your childhood trauma.

And it’s understandable when all most of us have wanted growing up is to be accepted. Just as author Harvey Mackay, writes: “Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people.”

Which begs the question, at what point do we stop letting intangible obstacles and other people’s opinions stand in the way of our happiness?

Well mine was now.

I’d become so tired. Tired of missing opportunities with men. Tired of relying on a smartphone to meet them. And just generally fucking tired of waiting for my life to start.

It was the reason I’d faced my stage fright and performed stand-up in front of a hundred people just the week before. I wanted to push myself to my limits, challenge myself, and jump outside of my comfort zone, because everything in it, was… well, too comfortable.

Like when a couple start crapping in front of each other; my life was an open-door dump.

So I necked my beer. Walked up behind him. Gently touched him forearm. And when he turned around, told him he was cute, and asked if I could give him my number.

And! He said… no.

OK, so it wasn’t exactly the result I wanted. But the best thing? I was fine. Genuinely fine, not like when a woman says it. I didn’t die. And I wasn’t crushed.

For all I knew he could go for bears, or muscle queens or basic bitches with no personality - none of which were me - so there was really no reason to take it so personally.

And what I’d realised is that rejection - in any form - is just a numbers game, like actors auditioning for parts, or authors trying to get published. Rejection was part and parcel of dating, but someone will say yes. It just wasn’t this guy.

But 10 minutes later I was being fondled in the smoking area, so it’s swings and roundabouts, you know?

Anthony Gilét is a London-based writer, blogger and YouTuber – follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

To read more from the Single & Fabulous? series click here.