A few days ago I attended a networking event. One of the reasons why I go to these events is to overcome my fear of talking to strangers.
By going to more and more events I gradually started to feel okay and the feeling of resistance to going and meeting someone new, in time started fading.
But I still have some apprehension about it, and that translates in a need to take a break and leave the group once in a while, and then come back for some more punishment.
The event itself was nice, almost 100 people have been there. But the nicest thing happened after the event. It’s a true, inspirational, real-life story.
I left the venue, went to take the subway and, after punching in the card, I realized that it had two or three more fairs on it, which would expire in about an hour. They were going to go to waste and, being a practical guy, I couldn’t stand the thought of it. “Something that has value will just vanish into thin air. I can’t let that happen!” I thought to myself.
A thought crossed my mind: “What if I stay there, at the entrance, and just give those fairs to people?”
So I did. I planted myself near the gates, and waited. A few people passed by, punching in their cards. I couldn’t budge. A few more people went by. I still could move. It was like someone inside of me was screaming: “Move, you asshole! Go and give them your card!” but my body didn’t want to listen.
It was the fear of rejection that did that to me: “What if they refuse? I will feel hurt, even if my intentions are good.” So I just stood there for at least 10 minutes, people passing by, whilst inside of me a battle was waging.
Until something happened.
A guy I saw at the event passed me by, turned around and gave his pass to a person who was going to punch a card. He said to him: “Wait, use my pass, it’s going to expire at midnight!” And the person used it, smiling and thanking him.
My mouth opened, and I said to the good Samaritan: “I was going to do that too!” We started talking, and he said, whilst giving his card to some more people: “I love doing these things. I can’t stand to see my pass going to waste either, and each time it’s going to expire I do what I’m doing now: give it away.”
I was impressed by his action and, although he was rejected by a few people, he kept on giving. “I’m used to rejection”, he said. “In college that was my job: doing polls on the street.”
He gave away about 10 fairs, and I didn’t give one of my 3. So I thought to myself: “Next person will use my pass.” And it happened: my new friend gave his pass to a girl and I gave mine to her boyfriend, who smiled and thanked me.
My satisfaction levels went through the roof. I was exhilarated! It was like an infusion of energy, and I couldn’t wait to do it again!
The next guy who used my pass padded me on the back a few times, a gesture so sincere that made my skin crawl. It was like our two souls recognized each other’s purity through this act of sincere giving and receiving.
In the 5 minutes I exhausted all my fairs, and my new friend – his. In time too, because the subway security were on to us and were about to stop our next attempt to give away fairs.
It was a completely satisfying experience. I felt powerful and energetic. I felt good, liberated. It was great to meet someone like me, who just wanted to give. I would have given away the subway fairs eventually, but who knows how long would have been taken me to do that. Life gave me a push to do what I wanted to do, through the power of someone else’s example.
That enabled me to move my feet and go do it, although my brain was in red alert and the adrenaline was rushing through my entire body, trying to make me give up.
I’m so grateful that that happened. It was a valuable lesson that, whenever I want to do something but fear keeps me back, I have life to count on. It will always be by my side, helping me to achieve the life I’ve been dreaming of all along….