Week 12 of my trip finished on October 9th.
Let’s get back to the beginning of my trip, the first week (end of July 2013) which I spent at home in Latvia. One day I was walking home and the following thought came across my mind. I felt comfortable. I was on a around the world trip, but I felt comfortable. Everything was familiar, I wasn’t pushing myself out of my comfort zone at all. It was nothing like my nine hour layover at Frankfurt airport. One of the goals of my trip was to search where the magic happens, that is to get out of my comfort zone. However, when I was back at home in Latvia, in a familiar environment, it was easy to slip back to familiar habits. Maybe pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is harder at home because going against the grain is psychologically harder than blazing a new trail.
I remembered a talk by Jia Jiang on his project of 100 days of rejection that I saw couple of weeks before my trip. His goal was to get rejected 100 times to overcome his fear of rejection. Not everybody said no, so he had some great adventures. I was inspired from the talk to challenge myself the same way.
I had to do it now. I can’t make an excuse that I’m at home.
As I was walking and noticing my surroundings, which were mostly the same with few new developments I noticed this brightly lit up company logo. I pretty much grew up in a country side, but in the last 10 years there has been way more development and more buildings and office spaces have been springing up left and right. This is a new office of one of the most famous and hip software technology companies in Latvia. Their main product is a social network that has higher penetration rate in Latvia than Facebook.
Idea. What if I ask for a tour of the office? It was around 8pm at night. I saw one guy inside the office. So.. I should ring the doorbell and ask him if he can show me around the office. My heart was pounding. I was starting to break a sweat. I said to myself: do it right now at this moment, before you change your mind.
So I did. My heart was racing.
I rang the bell but nobody answered, but luckily right that moment the guy got up and was heading out to smoke a cigarette. I caught him outside and started a conversation and asked if he could show me around the office.
It turns out what I thought was the buzzer was a finger print reader instead. They had whole bunch other cool tech stuff in the office, themed meeting rooms, game room, bean bags. He is a designer and has worked there for 8 years and in fact he is the one who design the office interior as well.
So overcoming the comfortableness (even physical one!) of asking something was totally worth it! I got a really cool office tour.
Of course not always I received yes.
Another time I was in Cambridge visiting Trinity college. Library had just closed, but I thought in the spirit of my rejection challenge I should ask the gate guards anyways. What if they say no? Meh, what is the worst that could happen? They will say no.
They did in fact say no. The library was closed and no one can see it off hours. Oh well, now I know. Wasn’t the end of the world.
About the middle of my trip I organized a small meetup. That was challenging for me. What if nobody shows up?
Indeed, nobody showed up.
But it was OK. I was at one of my favorite cafes and I pretty much always carry a book or kindle with me, so I read a book instead. I could have been devastated that nobody showed up. I could have tried to come with excuses that it was a very last minute, nobody is in town, time zone confusion, etc to not take it personally and feel rejected. But it was OK.
I think that was a turning point in my internal journey. This is where I felt complete peace with who I am. I felt grounded and no external influence could shake me up.
Now, by the week 12 it felt much easier and natural to ask random things. This is how I got this picture:
I was on a flight from Tokyo to Seoul for Korea West Coast Swing Open. I had been upgraded to a business class. As we were preparing to take off the captain was walking around the business class cabin and chatting and making jokes with people. That’s cool! Is this is how business class always works?
When we landed I had some time to kill while deplaning as my friends were at the back of the plane. So I thought I could ask the pilot whether I could take picture with him in the cabin. It wasn’t even a question of whether I should do it or not. I just did it. And he totally agreed! He said to me take a seat and took the first picture and then we took another one together. Fantastic! I didn’t know this was possible.
My biggest takeaway from this experience was that my heart wasn’t racing anymore.