Tag Archives: personal

Strangers

by Bob Vonderau

I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.

The other day I read this quote by Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors, and I could not get over how powerful these words are, “They may ignore you. Or you may marry them.” Isn’t it interesting how much people seek acceptance and avoid ridicule? With regards to saying hi to a stranger, it’s so easy to say that we’ll never see that stranger again anyways, so why not try? The concept is very simple and if you take into account the potential to gain a lifelong relationship, romantic or otherwise, doesn’t it seem worth it? So why do we not try? Why is fear so strong that it can freeze us? Fear of a large animal is an animal instinct; but where does fear of social rejection come from?

When I think about how many times I didn’t try something because I was afraid of failure or rejection, it’s a pretty extensive list. I will probably never know how much I had to gain, but I can certainly name more than one instance where I know fear was my only obstacle from embracing the possibility. Then I think of all the things I did try and ended up loving… This list is also extensive, but much more transparent.

I think the biggest social fears revolve around the fear of rejection. This past year, I’ve taken a number of initiatives to grow as a leader and thus as a person. My first big initiative was to overcome my fear of speaking in front of groups of people. I overcame this in the most direct method possible: I applied for a job looking for people with public speaking skill, and I got it. Having no proper experience in any sort speech communication, I was thoroughly shocked and terrified when I saw the job offer in my email almost eight months ago. Apparently I really made up for my lack of experience during my interview, where I presented a five-minute speech on ‘how to engage an audience.’ I must have looked like I knew what I was doing.

Alas, this Sunday will be my last day of work. I cannot even comprehend how so much time has passed. On the other hand, if there is One thing I do understand it’s that I have grown in both experience and skill. Do i still get nervous when I approach a crowd to speak? Definitely. The fear hasn’t disappeared, but I don’t think that was the point of taking on this job. Fear will always be there in every aspect of my life. The important thing is to learn how to deal with that fear and turn it into motivation to reach a better result.

After all, when you ride a rollercoaster, it’s the fear of anticipation while ascending that steep climb that makes the descent truly exhilarating.

Just how much does fear control your life?

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Something I wish I could buy from vending machines

by laughlin

This post was in response to a prompt entitled  from Plinky.com. I discovered the site recently and decided to give it a try!

I wish vending machines offered advice. Can you imagine that? Going up to a complete stranger to whom you pay a dollar to listen to your problems and give his/her thoughts. Mind you, I can very well see the many ways this idea would go wrong.

They way I envision this would be similar to the carnival fortune-teller machines that you may have seen in television shows. An advice vending machine would look like a booth and have a person inside whom would just sit and listen to your problem then offer you some (hopefully) useful words of wisdom.

The first and biggest problem with this is that the advice-giver may not give the kind of advice you want. When people express their problems to others, they generally do so for one of two reasons: they have a lot of thoughts on their mind that they just want to say out loud or they have thought so hard/long they want someone else to help them come to a conclusion.

For me, receiving advice means getting a new perspective. I want a person to tell me not what I want to hear, but another way to interpret or understand my thoughts. I dislike it most when people just tell me what I should think, using phrases like “Well, it happens to everybody. Don’t worry about it.”

I believe the reason I felt compelled to suggest an advice dispenser in response to this prompt was because good advice doesn’t come easily. How great would it be to have the convenience of advice for your greatest worries and thoughts at the insertion of a few coins? Maybe this occurred to me because I have yet to find someone whom I think gives me really good advice (besides my mother). The people I choose to ask for advice from vary depending on the nature of the situation, but I think what I’m looking for is someone I can consult universally about anything that bothers me.

…Does such a person even exist?

Hmm. I need to give my mom a call tomorrow.

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Boring New World

Canada is drop-dead boring, apparently. For the past two or three weeks, my uncle has been visiting from out of the continent. It’s his first time being in Canada and quite frankly, he’s not enjoying it. In order to visit Canada, a lot of paper work and planning had to be done since he came from a country that is not so fond of its citizens leaving the country. He was expecting this new country to be absolutely fantastic and filled with maple syrup and polar bears.

Unfortunately for him, his misconceptions were pretty munch debunked. Harshly. My uncle’s impression of life in Canada (and perhaps North America) was shattered. He’s just so bored here and I don’t blame him. Being too far away for school, I can’t really be there to talk to him. Similarly, my parents are at work. They can’t afford to take weeks from work for him. They have taken him to see local tourist attractions and explore the downtown wonders of Toronto, but those kind of activities only take up one day, respectively. Last and definitely not least, he doesn’t speak English and English is the only language my two younger brothers (whom are off from school for summer vacation) are fluent in.

The situation has made me ponder what citizens in other countries think of people in Canada and perhaps North America. A few Canadian bloggers I follow ( Simon and Martina from eatyourkimchi) once described in a vlog that while they were teaching in Korea they showed their students pictures of their humble bungalow back in Canada. The students were shocked. They thought that Simon and Martina were extremely rich for owning a home with LAND.

The two explained in their video that the reason for this misconception was because of the condensed nature of real estate in Korea. Homes are built upwards due to lack of land. In Canada, land is a little (read, a lot) more abundant, so it’s typical for a house to have a front and back yard.

I guess there is only so much you can learn about different parts of the world from the internet and other forms of information. Sometimes, you just really need to experience something to be able to truly understand it. I’m thankful to live in Canada where I can experience many cultures via a vast number of people to interact with.

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This is a rant.

I had a really bad day yesterday.

Every Thursday I have rehearsal with my university’s A Cappella club. I love it; it is easily the highlight of my week. On the Saturday preceding this week’s practice the club had hosted a kind of boot camp day where all the members of the club got together to get to know one another and really drill into our musical repertoire. I was forced to miss the boot camp due to work. I was pretty sad, especially since I work on campus and was thus a mere five minute walk away from the club’s activities. Alas, priorities must be made or life would be a mess.

In light of missing this boot camp, I had practiced really hard all week for this rehearsal. I’m actually a section leader for our club’s alto section, so I knew I had to make up for my absence. 

That’s when my day was ruined.

Our section was split up into two parts: a higher “alto 1” and a lower “alto 2”. I was to lead the higher alto 1 section in practicing one of our songs. I was feeling confident because I was sure I knew my part; I had easily put in 2-3 hours of practice on our newest repertoire just that day.

And then I cracked.

I couldn’t remember how one bar of our music went. I tried to get it but my mind was blank. I subsequently couldn’t remember how the rest of the page sounded. I decided to play it on the piano. It turns out my crappy printer had not printed out one line of the musical staff. If you’ve ever played music, you know that missing just one line completely changes the music like as if you begin to speak a different language.

I was kind of really devastated. To make matters worse, one of the alto 1’s I was supposed to help is actually co-president of the club. I felt so nervous around her; I hate to let people down.

But I did. For someone reason, I blurted out that I had heard that the practice on Saturday had only gotten up to the part before I messed up and was thus uncomfortable with the next part. I don’t even know why I said that… Well actually, I’m quite sure I said that because I didn’t want to say “I’m sorry, I went over this but I still can’t do it.”

My self-esteem has been severely damaged. On my walk home from A Cappella I could only think of how badly I was handling my so-called executive position. I really felt inadequate. I really hate feeling inadequate… This isn’t even my first time as a section leader. I was a section leader last term, too. My fellow alto section leader is amazing. She takes control and has such a powerful personality! I want to learn from her and do as well as she does, but I just feel like I’m really useless right now.

And now I’m just publicly wallowing in shame because writing stuff makes me feel better about life and I haven’t posted anything on this blog for awhile. My posts usually have more intellectual value, but I guess it’s okay to rant once in a while.

I’m not looking for sympathy. I just want to use this blog as a medium to express myself.

I will do better next week.

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