Almost a week ago I went to dance to the Tam Tams. I briefly danced with a woman of around my age. Then I went off to dance somewhere else. Then I came back to dance with the same woman. What I read in the body language of that woman was that she didn't want to dance with me anymore, and she fled off to a different spot.
These small perceptions of rejection, real or imagined, have a way of getting to me, and even though I logically I think "no big deal", what I actually feel is a "big deal". I would replay the move in my mind and go through the discomfort again and again.
So yesterday I went to an outdoor concert and I saw her again. She was sitting on a ledge, eating from a styrofoam container. She was wearing the same shirt. Her hair was disheveled. She was carrying a dirty backpack. Wait a minute, is she homeless? I thought. I wanted to say hello, she had caused an impression on me, but again I was afraid, what if she flees off again? Then I will be the victim of my own mind replaying rejections again and again. Besides, I didn't want to say hello while she was eating, so I kept an eye on her.
After she was done eating, she went into the crowd and enjoyed the concert. I didn't hover around or try to speak with her, that would have been weird if she recognized me. I waited for the concert to almost end, and when I was about to go speak with her, she came walking in my direction.
I looked at her in the eye, she looked at me in the eye. She smiled and pointed at me and did a little dance. I did the same to her and we laughed. You are the guy from the Tam Tams last week! She said enthustastically. "Yes! It was a lot of fun!". She stood on her tip-toes to hug me. After a couple of phrases exchanged we realized we both spoke Spanish. She was from Argentina, was here for work three weeks and was leaving in two days. She wasn't homeless, she was just a traveller, just like me! We had a brief pleasant interaction and said goodbye.
I realize there's a bias in my psyche which makes me perceive neutral events as rejection. If the rejection is real, then its magnified. It's painful. I wish I could escape this circumstance, but I can't. How to deal with it?
Either my perception of rejection was innacurate, or the rejection was temporary and meaningless. It's like being scared of a monster at midnight, and the next day you realize it's a teddy bear. Knowing it's a teddy bear will not remove the fear entirely next time you go to sleep, but you will know you are fearing a teddy bear.
Yes, that's it! Fearing rejection is fearing straw dogs.