Well, I’ll never do that again (though one should never say never, haha). I ain’t fundraising again. It rather reminded me of when I delivered the afternoon Toronto Star as a 13/14 year old. I wanted to earn enough money to buy new clothes for high school and to travel to England to visit relatives. The only problem was my route was too sparse of customers to allow me to earn enough. So there I am, a terribly shy kid, cold calling, knocking on doors, asking strangers if they’d like to subscribe, hoping I wouldn’t die from mortification. I was ecstatic over those who said sure, disappointed when told no, and pep-talking myself out of feeling awful when the odd person would tell me to go away, who did I think I was, stop bothering people, and my fave, didn’t I know who they were. Back then I learnt a lot about what I was capable of.
This April, I learnt a lot about folks. Although I set a big goal for raising funds for The Office of Letters and Light (OLL), and was hopeful about meeting it, I really didn’t expect much response. So I was ecstatic when right away, several sponsored my Script Frenzy writing marathon and even more sent me good lucks.
I hadn’t intended to send more than one e-mail out to my contacts, but I was a bit unclear in the first one and had to send out a correction. Then older, wiser people said you gotta send another one out, you need to remind people because some may have thought, yeah, I’d like to contribute but got distracted. So with great trepidation, I did. But I didn’t send the same message, I added something about my progress, different details about OLL so as to let people know I was not just blowing smoke about writing a screenplay in 30 days and that OLL was a legit nonprofit. And so it went.
I expected no replies for the most part. I also knew from having been the recipient of fundraising e-mails, one feels annoyed, or forgets, or barely takes it in in the busy-ness of life when receiving e-mails like mine. Usually, the annoyed ones probably feel the better side of valour is to stay silent and hit that Delete key. The forgetful ones are probably happy of the reminders and then promptly forget again. But many didn’t stay silent; they replied. They sent me congratulations or good luck or told me how excited they were that I was adapting Lifeliner. How awesome! The overflow of kindness buoyed me up and kept me writing. But then there are the grumpaloos of life, the three who told me to stop it. The weird thing about these grumpaloos, so much like those paper route door slammers, was that they all knew me in “real life,” not just a little bit, but quite well. In contrast, although the nicest, kindest people included the expected friends and relatives, they also included those whom I’ve only met online or know me through my parents.
I’m not sure what that says about me. But it’s interesting how the same stimulus can create such a variety of responses. One person thanked me for “the tickler,” while another told me to stop it. A few donated but didn’t say anything to me directly, while some said no thanks but best of luck. Several encouraged and congratulated me, while a relative told me to, uh, stop asking for money. And it slowly dawned on me that this is what some experts mean when they say people can’t make you mad; only you make yourself mad. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that, but the way people respond to e-mails or events really is determined by the kind of people they are. Generous people, confident in themselves, get excited for you. Even when busy or in pain, people can choose to be kind, to see life through a lens of good will. The grumpaloos…well, they’re not worth bothering about.