100 Days of Rejection — 1. Asking for a Free Pack of Gum

So I saw a very interesting TED Talk video by Jia Jiang about the importance of being rejected. I attached the video link at the bottom of this blog. It talked about how many of us are scared to ask simple questions because of it. Jia Jiang went through 100 days of asking for requests that were certain to be rejected (ex. borrowing $100 from a stranger). He talked about the things he was able to discover throughout his journey. I got interested in the benefits of becoming desensitized to rejection and decided to try this activity out for myself. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do 100, but take a read below for some of my own silly things I asked for and learned. I will be updating this on a continuous basis as a series of short stories.

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I was at the grocery store in the morning and realized that this was the perfect time to try one of my rejection requests. Not many people were at the store at the time so I felt it would be less embarrassing as well. I went up to the cashier with my fruits and had a short conversation with her. My original plan was to grab a pack of gum, put it on the conveyor belt, and ask if I could have it for free. However, I found myself to be a lot more nervous than expected and couldn’t even get myself to lift my hand and reach for the gum. I simply turned back to the lady and asked,

“Can I have a free pack of gum?”

“Pardon?” said Lady.

I cleared my throat and said louder, “Can I have a free pack of gum?”

“Umm, no”

At this point, I really wanted to say “thank you” and walk away with my fruits but I really wanted to do the second part of the challenge, which was to ask Why.

“Can I ask why?”

“What?” said Lady. I think she was getting a little annoyed at the impossible request.

“Can I ask why?”

“Because…you have to buy things here.”

I thanked her for her time and ran off with my fruits. After I calmed down, I discovered it wasn’t that bad of an experience. I literally just asked for a pack of gum. It was more thrilling if anything. I couldn’t help thinking back and realizing that there were 100 better ways I could have phrased my questions; areas of improvement for the next rejection. I also discovered how nervous I was of getting rejected. Finding that there is a ton of room for improvement, I realized that this exercise will be pretty helpful.

Original TED Talk: