I signed as a volunteer for a charity drive to collect food items at one of Tesco Metro shops. I was placed at the exit point of the counter, i.e. to collect food items donated by customers, which also marks the end of their shopping trip. There was another person stationed at the entrance to either give out leaflets or to create the awareness of such activity.
The charity organisation that drives such campaign is Fareshare. It is a non-profit organisation with a mission to fight hunger in the UK by re-distributing surplus food to over 900 charities across the UK, such as home shelters for homeless people, children’s breakfast and elderly luncheons. Surplus food is food produced in excess, either due to poor planning, over-forecast, wrong labelling or simply just not good enough to be shelved in the supermarket. These surplus food items are normally fresh food such as vegetables, fruits, etc. There are needs for shelf life food items such as cereal, canned soups, meats, fish etc.
It sounds all too noble to volunteer for this kind of drive whilst I am now unemployed, it to me is more than just helping people. And definitely it is not because I have nothing better to do. In a lot of people’s eyes, I should be back on the job market to look for a job and start to earn money.
However I defended myself quietly. I am still on my mission to find myself, my true calling in my life. I am volunteering for myself. I am challenging myself.
**The day before the campaign, I dreaded to go. I scolded myself why did I do that. I asked myself what could I achieved out of this? When I signed up, aside from the thought of helping vulnerable people, I was hoping to extend my social network. That was why I asked the organiser whether there will be another person with me manning the counters. She told me yes. But the night before, I finally managed to compromise myself. I have prepared myself for not hoping for any external factors to motivate to do this. The motivation has to be within.
So I set myself challenges and missions. These few months I have been with myself too much and for the last decade, I have been doing auditing work. I always feel that I have been living in an unreal world. I felt it was so near yet so far. I still can’t grasp it. Sometimes I think I can, but a lot of times I doubted myself a lot.
So I want to see if I can put myself out there to ask people to donate. To me, this seems real. This is the real world.
Is my face thick enough? Will I be inhibited by my own useless ego, or shyness? Would I feel “naked” when I stand in front of people to ask them for donations?
To add a bit of fun to the challenge, I also give myself another task.
Well, I kind of set that impromptu when I was standing there after the first 10 mins. My tasks were to take note of my own feeling/ reaction when:
a) people ignored me altogether, as if I was transparent or not there, when they walked pass me;
b) people who heard me say “hello” yet, didn’t stop
c) people who heard me say “hello” and saw me “smile”, and pretended they didn’t
d) people who heard me say “hello”, and saw me “smile” eagerly to them, and replied my hello back, without looking back at me
e) people who heard me say “hello”, and saw me “smile” eagerly to them, and looked and replied my hello back without stopping
f) people who heard me say “hello”, and saw me “smile” eagerly to them, and looked and replied my hello back, stopped while I was trying to explain what it was all about
g) people who stopped because of their curiosity
h) People who stopped and cared to listen, but when they heard that it was a charity, they shook their head and left
i) People who stopped and cared to listen with questions but told me that it was the end of their shopping trip and they haven’t got anything we asked for to give in their bags. They promised to come back tomorrow or that they will do it the next time
j) People who stopped, cared to listen with questions, cared to accept my suggestion to go back to do the shopping since the aisle is closeby, with my willingness to look after their shopping bags while they have gone back to shop again
k) People who came with open arms and hearts, without any persuasion from my end, and handed me the food items.
My reactions were only one – Happy! Because I have finally challenged myself to speak to people regardless. To strangers. I am not that timid or shy or lack of self-confidence thereof as I have thought of myself. I wasn’t that weak in will or determination as I have thought of myself. I didn’t give up easily as I have thought of myself. In fact, this has given me some super power to think of my own ability. This has given me a lot of strength to carry on to finding myself. And to a certain extent, give me some confidence that perhaps I could be an entrepreneur.
The training manager who was responsible for this drive in Tesco told me that they did the same campaign in Dec last year. They had better results then despite that this campaign had just started half a day by the time I took over the shift. When I was stationed at the exit point, i.e. the end of customers shopping trip, I was told that my job was just to collect donation. I shouldn’t be giving leaflets out because customers wouldn’t care since they have finished their shopping and that they wouldn’t return to donate anymore. Nor would I be able to convince customers to donate items anymore.
Yet I have different beliefs. People who care wouldn’t mind to go back and do the shopping again. I have proven this point, because there were quite a few of them wouldn’t mind to do that. I offered to look after their shopping bags, and in an instance, 4 children of a mother, who relentlessly went back to do the shopping. I felt bad to a certain extent when an elderly lady who was with a walking stick said that she would go back to the aisle to buy the food items. These are all good people, who warms the world and believes that there are hopes in this world. These are all beautiful people despite the fact that they didn’t dress up or groom themselves. They to me beautiful from within and shine through to externally. Better than those who dressed up and meticulously groom themselves but didn’t even care to stop and listen.
Those who took the leaflets and promised to return the next day, I hope they do. Perhaps not 100% of them, but if there is even 20% or 30% of them would return to donate, there will be a lot of people who can sleep without stomach growling at night.
I take away the lessons of life and what I have learnt about myself in this situation. I am stubborn but at the same time, when people tell me that it is impossible to do it, I would prove to them that I could do it. There is no impossible. The only person who can stop me from proving this is indeed is myself! So I am the one that should be challenging myself!
**I am reading a book entitled “Quiet” written by Susan Cain, a lawyer turned author, a book about Introvert people surviving in the loud, busy and full of pretend to be extrovert people. There was a chapter the author wrote about her feeling a night before her big speech. It was exactly the same kind of self-talk I had the night before this kind of event. Yes I am a true Introvert and learning to find a way to excel in this world, without following the extroversion ways. Hone my strongest skills rather than trying to merely survive in my weaknesses.