The “F” Word – Fear

20 Seconds of Insane Courage


There she is, sitting alone drinking coffee, the gorgeous girl you’ve been wanting to talk to for months. It’s the perfect opportunity to walk up and say, “Hello!” You gather your courage. You hesitate, thinking, “What if she blow’s me off?” You turn away, then stop. A new resolve fills you with brash excitement.

“Yes, I can!”

You spin around, ready to conquer the world, and stare in surprise to see your dream girl surrounded by 5 other chicks  chattering like a bevy of birds.

And so ends another chapter in the saga of your lonely and unrequited love life.

This story is repeated thousands of times each day for both men and women. Thousands of young hearts first dreaming, then hoping, then finally crashing back to reality in a worry warted face plant. What do all these stories have in common besides desire? That’s right. It’s the “F” word.


Each of these love stricken fools held back and hesitated because they were afraid. The obvious question is “Afraid of what?”

Just what are we all so afraid of that we don’t step up and do the very things that we dream will bring us happiness? What can possibly happen that will be so bad, so unnerving, that we will be banished to loveless purgatory forever?

I can only speak for myself, and believe me, I’ve an immensity of experience with “Fear. I remember my first high school date and all the emotional turmoil caused by simply asking a girl to a dance.

I was part of a group of guys who were more the “out” bunch than the “in” crowd. Somehow we decided it would be cool to ask some of the cute girls in school to go to the dance with us. Then, to put some pressure on this impulse, we dared each other to do it. Yes, I had a crush on Susie but I’d never noticed she’d even looked sideways at me. I was deathly afraid she’d say “No!” which would have made me feel lower than dirt with my buddies. Even if I got past this neurosis, there was a bigger challenge lurking in my anxious mind. I’d actually have to talk with a girl, a female who was not my dog. What would I say? On top of that there was a larger problem I hadn’t even begun to think about.

I didn’t know how to dance.

Okay. Let’s add up the strikes. Fear of rejection. Fear of women. Fear of looking like a fool. None of these may seem as life threatening as fear of your mom finding your hidden copy of Playboy, but still, these things are cause for the sudden eruption of pervasive acne on a previously naive and unmarked face.

Let’s analyze the true probable consequences of failure. What could possibly be so bad?

First, what could happen when I walk up to Susie and ask her out?

Nothing, of course. I see Susie in the hall standing by her locker. I smile and walk up to her. I trip over my untied shoelace and fall face first in front of her. As I get up I hear the crotch of my jeans tear. I turn twelve shades of crimson as I pull my knees under me and look up. Susie has been joined by at least two dozen other girls all staring down at me. They are laughing. I slowly stand up, being careful to keep my legs together to avoid exposing the damaged jeans. Obviously, this is the perfect moment to say, “Hi. How’d you like to go to the dance with me?”

No, not much could go wrong there.

Or, let’s assume I managed to escape the slip sliding for love entry, and found myself alone with Susie in front of her locker and all I have to do is introduce myself.

Me, standing silent in front of Susie: A….

Susie, staring at me: Yes?

Me, stuttering: I…I…

Susie, now smiling: Could I help you?

Me, beginning to shake nervously: I….I…

Susie, looking around for help as she’s now thinking I may be a problem.

Me, exploding: I was wondering if you…

Susie, a puzzled look on her face: Yes?

Me: …if you could tell me where the bathroom is?

There, that was easy, wasn’t it.

Of course, there’s always the slim possibility that I got past the first two challenges and somehow managed to convince Susie to attend the dance wit me. Now what?

Me and Susie enter the dance together. I smile smugly at my buddies. Yes, I have scored. Look at the cute chick I’ve brought to the dance. Eat your hearts out suckers!

Ten feet into the dance hall, Susie turns to me and says, “I think I’ll go over and talk with my friends.”

Me, a sigh of relief: Sure.

We retreat to our opposite corners, girls over there, boys over here, and spend the rest of the night eyeing each other, the boys making derisive remarks about the overweight girls and the only two guys in the room who actually dance. Lord only knows what the girls were talking about. And so I manage to complete my first date. What was the big deal? Nothing, except the anxiety acne I developed made me so self conscious that it was three more years before I managed the nerve to ask another girl out.

Looking back, such mental angst seems so ridiculous. What did I really have to lose in walking up and saying “Hello!?”? Most people, even girls even, will simply smile and say “Hello” in return. They won’t give you the evil eye and make you feel like you’ve invaded the private territory of the Witch of the North. If this does happen, you obviously don’t really want to know this person.

In the movie “We Bought A Zoo,” Matt Damon recounts the experience of meeting his wife, a moment when he managed to overcome his own fears and boldly stepped forward for “20 seconds of insane courage.” He walked up to the girl he was smitten with and said, “Hi. I don’t know why you’d ever want to talk with a guy like me.”

She replied, “Why not?”

20 Seconds of insane courage.

Yes you can!

Take heart, you are following in the footsteps of countless other fearful folks who have succeeded in spite of themselves.


Yours to count on.

Tio Stib Signature

Remedies For Reluctant Romantics

Winning at the Game of Love!
Romance For Dummies…

Soul Mates at Starbucks

The Perfect Partnership – Dr. Phil is in!

I’m working at home, feeling stuck, even worse, feeling lonely. What to do?

In today’s urban world, where do you go for companionship when you get infected with the loneliness bug?  You might go to the City Park on a pleasant day…if you happen to have one nearby, or there’s the indoor option, the ubiquitous urban coffee shop, Starbucks.

Yes, that new social hub for the Nuevo Lonely, those thousands of us who have chosen the freedom path of working at home, having our own lives, at the expense of the 10 am coffee crowd gathering at the office.

Was it worth it?

I go to Starbuck’s for my social fix.  I go to the stores where you can actually sit down and observe all the other “Free” souls typing on their laptops or “reading” three inch thick books, just like me.  Maybe it’s life by association, some kind of vicarious pleasure knowing that there are other lonely souls craving connection.

What is fascinating is watching how we interact with each other in this environment.

We don’t.

We do everything we can to look busy, avoid eye contact, and protect our personal space. Only in America.  My experience in other cultures has been very different, but then I was the only gringo in some of those situations so I guess that made me a curiosity.  Sometimes different is helpful.

Of course, you could move to a small town, where everybody knows everybody, where Marge at the checkout counter might ask, “why are you buying so much stool softener? Didn’t your mom pass away two years ago?”

“yes, she did Marge. I’m using it to discourage the squirrels from storing nuts in my basement.”

If this is not enough intimacy for you, rest assured Starbucks will come to your town eventually. At last report, the Starbucks Ship has even landed in such places as Omak, Washington and Susanville, California…

Okay, so let’s assume Starbucks is everywhere and you find yourself seated amongst numerous other lonely life escapees. Knowing that every one of you is overwhelmed with the fear of rejection and thus hesitant to even say “Hello!” to anyone but the barrista, how might we change this picture to truly help all the neurotics sitting alone at Starbucks?

Don’t you think it would be a great business partnership for Starbucks to join up with Dr. Phil?  He could hire a whole team of Dr. Phil clones, psychologist who would have a designated table at Starbucks Stores; walk-ins welcome, obviously.  You would just sit down and spill your coffee and your troubles. Your Dr. Phil Look-a-like would listen, and listen, and of course all of us would listen too. That’s most of the fun, at Starbuck’s anyway, pretending not to hear everyone else’s not-so-secret conversations.

At the end of the session, your Dr. Phil guy would deliver a glib one liner, like ”Keep going, your doing great!”

Of course, it doesn’t really matter what Dr. Phil says, the real therapy is that someone actually listened to you. This makes me think that the guy sitting next to me who has been talking to himself nonstop for the last hour is actually doing his own version of loneliness therapy. He gets the benefit of knowing everyone around him is listening to his babble along with the comfort that no one will dare respond. Clever, these seeming lunatics, aren’t they?

I feel so much better now.  Nothing like a trip to Starbucks to release all those inner tensions and life my spirits

Now, if I could just kick this coffee addiction.

How do you get through the loneliness blues?

Yours to count on.



Tio Stib

Tio Stib Signature

Remedies For Reluctant Romantics

Winning at the Game of Love!
Romance For Dummies…

How Do I Know?

Is He/She/It Right?


Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the cat food section at the grocery store unable to decide what type of cuisine to try next for your finicky feline? So many choices, how do I know what Percival will like?

No, I don’t relate to this particular anguish. Cats are as standoffish as I am in sharing personal space. However, I do relate to the confusion of too many choices. And sometimes these choices are actually important considerations for the fate of humanity, or at least whether or not you’ll keep smiling this week. Such critical questions as:=

Bobby seems like such a nice guy, should I let his mismatched socks keep me from dating him again?”


“Jeez, Sylvia is a total blast to hang out with. I wonder if the four cell phones she’s constantly answering would keep her from being in a committed relationship?”

or maybe-

“I wonder if Robbie really sleeps with his St. Bernard?”

Yes, these are the moments when you really need to have your head screwed on straight so that you don’t do something stupid, like offer to bring Robbie’s St. Bernard a steak the next time you visit.

How do I know the right choice:

Don’t worry, it’s really not that complicated. All you have to do is breathe.

Stop laughing. Better yet, stop thinking.

Take a deep breath. Inhale a full load of air. Stop. Hold it. Now, slowly exhale.

Again. Inhale. Hold. Exhale slowly.

Once more. Inhale. Hold. Exhale slowly and relax.

Were you able to do this? Could you stop in the middle of your frenetic, brain frazzled day to simply breathe consciously three times?

If you couldn’t do this simple exercise, you will find it hugely difficult to answer the “How do I know?” questions. Your mind is too muddled up with things to do, to cluttered to concentrate and focus. If you weren’t able to stop and take three conscious breaths, and having a full and meaningful life is important to you, we need to do more work together. Let me know and I’ll write another blog post to help with this process. For the rest of you, glad to hear you’re still breathing. Let’s continue.

Here’s how to answer the “How do I know?” question:

Stop what you are doing, get out of traffic to a quiet space. Take three deep breaths as described above. Inhale deeply, hold, exhale slowly. Repeat twice.

Now, as you find yourself in a relaxed state, imagine a blank white wall in front of you. Perfect. Now see your hand writing on the wall in bright red letters.

What do you see?

“Fish. Percy loves fish.”

Purrrfect. Now grab that can of Salacious Sardines and head triumphantly to the check stand.

What happens if the writing on the wall says something totally unrelated to the question you wanted to answer?

You’re smart. You have to be to be reading my blog. That’s right, perhaps there is a more important question that needs to be answered first. For instance, in the case of the lady wondering about the mismatched socks guy, who saw this message in her mind after this exercise:

“”Red Jaguars are so-o-o cool!”, referring to the fact that Bobby showed up for the last date driving his brand new bright red Jag, a little toy he’d picked up after he sold his trendy software company to Google for a trillion dollars.

Pay attention folks, something out there likes you.

Yours to count on,

Tio Stib

Tio Stib Signature

Remedies For Reluctant Romantics

Winning at the Game of Love!
Romance For Dummies…