It was Fall 1986. I was a college sophomore at Penn State and still a bit introverted and hesitant to speak to girls. OK, I was terrified to speak to girls. I had no game, no good lines and couldn’t form a good conversation let alone simple small-talk.
During that semester I was in a second-level Spanish-language class with about 15 other people and there was an adorable young lady who sat a few chairs away from me. There was eye contact and a smile between us every once now and then. Boy, was I smitten, but we’d never spoken a word to each other.
Throughout the entire semester I kept saying to myself “talk to her, say something, ask her out; don’t be a gutless coward; you have to do this or you’ll regret it forever”. I even thought of speaking to her in Spanish as an ice-breaker but I could barely say more than “Me llamo Ron.”
In my mind for weeks, I worked through a bunch of crazy scenarios of what could happen if I asked her for a date. What if she says no? What if she says yes? Can I handle rejection? Do I know what to do if she accepts? What would I plan for the date? This was happening about a year after Back to the Future was in the theater and I imagined a scene where the awkward Crispin Glover character fumbled his attempt at asking Lea Thompson’s character for a date. “I’m George McFly, and I’m your density…I mean, destiny.” Eventually, I worked-up the nerve to ask her for a date on the last day of class and just before finals. I was stunned when she said yes!
Well, the date was a disaster. A total train wreck. How bad was it? Well, it’s just too long and too unbelievable of a story to tell here. But I took a chance, bet on myself, risked failure and I survived.
The lesson I learned is that you must face your fears, take some risks, step outside of your normal and what’s comfortable and push for what you want in life and career.