I’m an introvert — I find groups bigger than four difficult, so imagine my anxiety about this mega-congregation. Among 200 classmates, I feared feeling alone. I find approaching someone and initiating a conversation daunting. This holds true not only for total strangers but also for people I feel I actually know. Why is a simple act of saying “Hi” so difficult?
I believe it is my fear of rejection. What if they don’t say “Hi” back? I know the person from class or social media but what if he/she doesn’t know (or remember) me? Am I interesting enough that anyone would want to talk with me?”
Taking Touchy Feely last quarter gave me the courage to share my fear with my peers. I was taken aback when almost everyone identified with it — even those I’ve considered experts at navigating the social scene at the GSB. This fear of rejection keeps people, including me, sticking to their cliques and not reaching out to more people.
Next time we dismiss someone as “distant and cold” because they aren’t acknowledging us, how about we stay true to the GSB spirit of giving second chances and trying to empathize? Maybe the person is afraid of rejection, just like you? Recall the last time someone reached out to you and made you feel included. Wouldn’t it be great if we can pass that forward and bring a smile to someone else?
Israel turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. More than the history of the Holy Land, I’ll remember my “heroic” action of saying “Hi” to a classmate, who is my new friend. We’re grabbing lunch this afternoon to laugh at the irony of our fears of exclusion bringing us together.
Piyush Pratik is a member of the MBA class of 2019.