“Deviant for A Day” Exercise – A Curious Reflection

I tried a fear setting exercise, Deviant for A Day, taken from Tim Ferriss’s podcast today. The exercise requires drawing a square on my forehead and leave it there for a day. The idea is to break normal convention and watch myself as well as people around me being uncomfortable with it. Coming out of this excercise, I would feel more comfortable with doing things differently, rather than conforming due to fear. Through this excercise, I would understand that many conventions are just made up, and are harmless to break. Why? Because breaking conventions leads to innovation.

Cool. Here we go.

8am. Time to draw the square. I drew it as square as I could, skewed toward the right side of my face. I didn’t know what I was aiming for? Making it clear that the mark was intentional or try to make it “unintentional”.

9am. First few hours of the day. I felt weird. I’m not at all a guy who usually follow the mass (I’ve been inappropriately loud, been dragging on a dead joke until only 2 people left laughing…). I still felt weird. It’s almost shame, where I was afraid others would see the square on my forehead. I was afraid to see people reaction to it. So I diverted eye-contacts. I walked through people quickly.

This is strange. The mark is strange. I don’t feel it belongs to my body. Even though I don’t see it, I have a temptation to touch it or run to a mirror to look at it.

10am. I mustered some courage for myself to start looking at people reaction. Even weirder. Most people didn’t care. Or most people don’t even bother to ask. Is this more of a reflection on the society or a reflection on our root-less fear?

I noticed some weird looks, but then people just went on with what they were doing. It’s almost disappointing. I’ve come up with all these funny answers for the square on my forehead and run through the scenarios countless times through my head.

Are people used to me being weird? Are we all too absorbed in our own world to care about others?

12pm. It was only until lunch time, half a day had gone by, a girl on my team asked me about it. She was concerned that I had some bicycle accident over the weekend. God damn… I mean, god bless her soul!

Only once during half a day? That’s something I could had never imagined.

This is probably some what reflects on whether people care enough about me to tell me that there is something on my face. But then again, drawing a too perfect square, people might catch on that it is intentional(?)

Hmm… would I tell someone that they have something on their face? Oh right! Most likely not!

This is because if I was mistaken and that “mark” turns out to be a scar or a birthmark on somebody face, I would risk offending them. I would say something if I’m fairly certain that the mark isn’t what should be on their face in the first place.

So people are too intimidated to say anything, fearing that they could potentially offended me or embarrassing themselves. Is such the culture in the U.S.?

4pm. I had to hurry to the post office to send a package

5pm. Improv acting class, which is packed with activities for about 2 hours.

7pm. The time rush made me forgot completely about the marker on my face. Strangely, it all went by smoothly without any questions thrown at me, both from the people at the post office, or my classmates at the improv class. I only realized about the fact now. Looking at the mirror, I can only barely see the bottom one-forth of the mark. It was probably wiped away by my sweat during the commute and activities. Thus, I couldn’t draw any conclusive conclusion toward this experiment during last third of the day.

It’s strange, though! It’s either that I have felt at ease with the marker, or maybe I haven’t, but it doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Are we just fretting too much about changing some aspect of ourselves, about how others will notice us not being our past selves?What do you mean no one is going to notice I’m wearing different socks today?

The truth is, people probably don’t even notice whether we are wearing socks or not.

Well, I don’t try to lecture anyone. I don’t even know that much. I’m doing my best just to navigate this thing called life, as everyone does. But today, I observed something interesting: people don’t make THAT big of a deal about me being different; I am, on the other hand, making THAT big of a deal about me being different.

I’m willing to walk on uncharted territories more, to break conventions more. It is not that scary. And even more importantly, I’m curious to see where that leads me.

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