Our greatest fear, by Anthony Zhou


Public speaking is generally regarded as one of the biggest fears people have.

But it goes deeper than that.

The act of speaking in public is something we do all the time. We do it when we order a coffee or a Big Mac combo at McDonalds. We laugh around the dinner table with our families. We proudly suggest ideas to groups of friends.

If it’s not public speaking that scares us, then what are we really afraid of?

Our biggest and greatest fear is REJECTION.

The fear of rejection is what makes public speaking so terrifying for people. When we think of “public speaking”, we mean standing up there in front of lots of people (a majority of the time it’s strangers). We are afraid that they will not like what we say, they will judge us, and will not like us personally.

The fear of rejection is what cripples us and stops us from showing the world who we truly are: our achievements, our strengths, our weaknesses. We are afraid people will reject us for just being ourselves.

This inherently comes from a belief that we are not good enough. Our natural and organic self is not up to everyone’s standards.

This is why we put on a mask or a persona when we are out in public. We project this ideal image of ourselves to the world – the one we think people will like and won’t reject. Nice Guys are the masters of this.

Nice Guys are the greatest people-pleasers in the world. They do and say things to make people like them, in order to avoid rejection – especially when it comes to girls that they are attracted to. And those rare times when the Nice Guy takes a chance and makes a move, when that girl does eventually reject him, he becomes a depressed, shattered, and heartbroken man.

The Nice Guy is rejected and ends up in the “friendzone”. This is Nice Guy purgatory.

As a recovering Nice Guy I have started being more open and honest with people and showing the world my true self. I’ve been sharing my achievements, strengths, weaknesses, and my life story. But I am still guilty of being a people pleaser when it comes to girls that I am attracted to.

I, Anthony Zhou am afraid of rejection. It cripples me and I find it uncomfortable to even talk about it. When it comes to my fear of rejection from girls that I am attracted to, I still have a lot of work to do.

I can count on one hand how many times I have directly asked a girl out. Hell, I will even tell you – the number is THREE. Yep. THREE, and each of those has been a rejection. Each time I would plunge into a deep hole of self pity and depression for months, until I eventually pick myself up and get back on the proverbial horse.

When Nice Guys (myself included) get rejected and eventually get the “let’s just be friends” speech by the girl that we are attracted to, we believe:

1) “There must be something wrong with me”

2) “I’m not good enough” 

3) “If she gets to know the real me, then she will fall in love with me”

Instead of moving on, we stick around, keeping ourselves in the rejection-free friendzone in the desparate hope that over time we can win her over. Want to guess how often this works in our favour?

That is exactly what I used to think and do. But not anymore. Because lately I started having some different thoughts about the concept of rejection…

What if there is nothing wrong with me?

What if the girl isn’t rejecting me as a person – because let’s face it, how could she? She doesn’t even know me. Think how long it takes a trained psychologist to assess someone. How does that compare with the amount of “getting to know me” that a girl does before I make my move?

Wow… she doesn’t really know me at all!


So what is she rejecting then?

We all know the saying “First impressions last”. Nice Guys present to the world a friendly confident guy who is easy-going and gets on with everyone. We do and say things to make people like us. We make jokes and play the clown, or give gifts, drinks and compliments to win people over.

We are eager to please and we want people to like us. We agree with people all the time, we never tell people what we think or feel. We don’t want conflict, we don’t want people to disagree with us and not like us.

But what we are really presenting to the world is a guy who is needy, desperate, and lacking confidence. We present a man who asserts no boundaries, and seems to have no opinions of his own.

That is what she is rejecting – the first impression the Nice Guy is presenting, NOT the Guy himself.

How does the Nice Guy change that image he is presenting to the world?

I personally don’t have the answer to that at this point in time, as I am currently about to embark on my own journey to change the image I am presenting to the world to reflect my true self. What I do know is that when you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got. Therefore the secret lies in CHANGE.

We have to do something different. And if what we were doing centered around being fake and trying to please people, perhaps the opposite approach holds the key. Maybe it’s time to start being more authentic and care a lot less about keeping other people happy. I’m not sure, but what I can leave with you is this:


It’s simply feedback to tell us that something isn’t working. It’s a very quick and sometimes harsh way of getting feedback, but like ripping off a band-aid I would rather have it done quickly and get it over with, than to have it dragged out. The friendzone is essentially a long, drawn-out rejection.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just muster up 10 seconds of blind courage to ask the girl out earlier on? The rejection will happen regardless if it’s going to, we know that, so might as well bring it on sooner.

The next time you Nice Guys out there or I get rejected, try to take it objectively as feedback. Learn from it and try again. Every time you try and it doesn’t work, analyse it, experiment, figure out what you are being told, until you start to see how interactions like these work best.

It will take time and it won’t be easy. But imagine that you eventually figured it out, and were able to experience abundance, choice and quality in your relationships with women. Wouldn’t that be worth whatever amount of rejection/practice it took?

I know I will have to go through 1,000 plus rejections until I get it right. I am not going to lie – I’m afraid.

But I can take comfort that each rejection will lead me to eventually presenting to the world the image which truly reflects who I am at heart. Anthony without a mask; proud, vulnerable and real.

Time for me to take the first step…

“A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

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Dan Munro, Confidence Coach, Director
The Inspirational Lifestyle

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