Rejections from the Street



It wasn’t nearly as easy to gather interviews for this month’s series as I originally imagined. When I conceived 31 Dreams From the Street, I assumed most people would be all in, that most people would jump at the chance to answer a simple question that allowed them to dream big.

But I was wrong.

I told you up front that I expected to be stretched outside of my comfort zone. I told you up front that I’d experience some level of rejection.

But I had no idea I’d experience the level of rejection that I did.

Apparently this question was loaded, more than I knew.

“If you didn’t have to worry about money at all, what would you do with your life?”

This month, I successfully interviewed and featured 25 individuals. All 25 individuals answered my question. All 25 individuals shared their first name and allowed me to take their photograph. All 25 individuals gave me permission to feature them on my blog.

This month, I unsuccessfully approached an additional 20 individuals. (Yes, that means that when all is said and done, I had to get extraordinarily brave 45 times this month!)

Here’s a listing of the 20 rejections from the street:

Non-English Speaking

  • A mamasita wearing a beautiful headwrap
  • A man collecting aluminum cans in a grocery cart

Chatted Up A Storm, Gave Me Their Full Name, but Refused to Be Interviewed

  • A window washer who took my blogging business card and said he was going to hire me to take pictures for his daughter’s wedding, because if I “have a camera like that, [I’m] a professional.”

Straight-Up Rejections

  • A mom and her little princess in the Disney store
  • A hipster guy on a bike
  • A dude selling hair straighteners
  • A blue-haired girl in Hot Topic
  • A construction worker
  • Another construction worker
  • A guy watering mums
  • Manager at a bank
  • Assistant manager at a bank
  • A woman getting her shoes shined
  • A young lady working the Taco Bell drive-thru

Allowed me to Conduct a Full Interview, but Refused Name and Photograph

  • A woman with multiple piercings who just wanted to move to Tahiti and surf all day
  • A rico-suave Jewish Orthodox dude who worked in a beauty store and would worship God all day
  • A family guy and his son who’d “have a happy, healthy family”
  • A man who was laid off from General Motors after 21 years of employment, then laid off from a die cutting company after 11 years of employment
  • A dude who’d “be worry free”
  • A woman who’d open a clinic and shelter for women who have escaped sex-trafficking

When I conceived the series, I should’ve expected to run into a few non-English speaking individuals. It’s happened before when I’ve approached random strangers for the blog. All I can say is…maybe it’s time to learn Spanish?!

But all the other rejections? I didn’t quite understand.

I knew rejections were inevitable. But the frequency at which I was rejected was much higher than I anticipated.

At least, I’m a fairly benign person. At best, I’m a friendly, approachable person. There’s not much about me that comes off as threatening as far as I can see. And to be completely honest, I don’t think I was asking for a lot. I was asking for an answer to one question, a first name, and a photograph. I would’ve taken an alias name if needed. Heck, I would’ve even taken the photograph from a distance, or pictures of hands, feet, anything just to get a picture that represented the interview.

Still, I was rejected 20 times.

I wondered why so many people rejected me straight up. “Not today,” was the most memorable answer from that group.

Trust is the issue, I suppose.

I wondered why many people talked to me and even answered my question, sometimes at length, but wouldn’t share their first name and/or wouldn’t allow me to take a photograph. My favorites from this group were two gentlemen I interviewed who also shared their FULL NAMES with me, but wouldn’t allow me to take a photograph.

Privacy is the issue, I suppose.

Trust and privacy.

Trust and privacy.

Trust. And privacy.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure why I’m sharing these rejections. I haven’t made any brilliant conclusions that will change the course of history and humankind from here on out. But the rejections prove we’re all human, don’t they?

All I know is that I was shocked at the number of rejections I got.

Some people are highly vigilant about privacy. I get it. Some people have trust issues. I get it. But I wasn’t asking for the world. I wasn’t asking for every detail of their private lives. I wasn’t asking for last names or middle names or maiden names. I wasn’t asking for anything except an answer to one question, a first name, and one photograph.

I wondered if some people thought I was an undercover reporter and was going to flash their photograph and story all over the television screen.

After wanting to quit the series mid-month, my approach rate reduced significantly. I no longer assumed people would say yes to my interview. So I only approached when I had a good hunch they might say yes. I didn’t want to experience more of this rejection, whatever form it took.

None of us want to be rejected. None of us want to be taken advantage of. None of us want to be played, or used up by another human being.

But I find it curious that in order to build and restore trust, in order to develop relationship, in order to live our lives fully, in order to make peace with issues from the past and embrace the dreams we have for our future, we have to get a little vulnerable and take a chance on the unknown.

So do we trust? Or do we not?

Are we willing to engage others simply in order to live more authentically? Or not?

Do we want to connect? Or not?

Are we open to taking chances in life? Or not?

We each decide, don’t we?

After writing this post, I’m feeling a little torn about what I think. I’m not 100% clear as to what I was supposed to learn from those 20 rejections, except that we have issues with trust and privacy in our culture. If I had approached you randomly on the street, would you have answered? Why or why not?Let’s chat. I’d love to engage in some dialogue about this!






*This post is a part of a month-long 31 Days series titled Dreams from the Street. If you’d like to read more from my series, click here and you’ll be brought to the series landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked! You can follow me on Twitter at where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days, and I’d LOVE to connect on Facebook at! I’m so glad you stopped by. Make yourself comfortable and take a peek around the place. You’re welcome back anytime.

  1. Tom Baunsgard says:

    Hi Amy, I applaud you for your effort and reaching out to people and ask them that simple question “If you didn’t have to worry about money at all, what would you do with your life?” To reach out and ask questions of total strangers about something as personal as “Money” is way out of the comfort zone of probably 99% or the population. To get positive responses from over 50% of the people you approached is wonderful, Especially in this age of the Internet, Cell phones, Ipads, Banking and Credit card Scams etc., so many people are very guarded about anything they share for fear of being used or exploited, therefore, Trust and Privacy are paramount.
    Even striking up a conversation with a stranger is out of the comfort zone of most people. My wife Susan will be the first to tell you that I am the most outgoing of the two of us and can initiate a conversation without too much angst. I guess it is my curious nature. But I look for for cues and the possibility of having something in common with the other person… even it is as simple as we are waiting in a line together somewhere which is the thing we have in common 🙂 I’m a BIG GUY and I think sometimes people are a bit intimidated by that, but a smile usually breaks the ice.
    Thanks for the Stretch! Reaching out there with your blog captured the very essence of moving beyond your comfort zone. Both the positive responses and the rejections were very interesting.


  2. Monica says:

    “But I find it curious that in order to build and restore trust, in order to develop relationship, in order to live our lives fully, in order to make peace with issues from the past and embrace the dreams we have for our future, we have to get a little vulnerable and take a chance on the unknown.”

    This right here is HUGE! If you gained nothing else from this…if none of us gained anything else from this….I hope you, me and others can walk away with those wise words. Thank you Amy! The very fact that you blog and do so publicly qualifies you as a living breathing example of vulnerable & brave!

    I have your #31days from the street to be intriguing, authentic, brave, inspiring and most of all you gave 25 people a voice to share their hearts! What you did, and what you are doing is a gift!

    • Amy says:

      I do feel grateful that the series allowed those 25 people to bare a little bit of their hearts and souls, and I hope someone was really encouraged by that. I did feel a connection with several of the people I interviewed, and now I just hope that something about our interactions will spur them on to reach for their dreams, or to live their lives more fully alive. I have learned that good things come from DECIDING to take chances, DECIDING to become a little more vulnerable than my flesh wants to. It is there that I have grown wiser. It is there that I have felt more connected to others. It is there that I have felt more understood by others as well. Thank you for your kind, kind words. I’m SO glad it inspired you and that you found it to be brave. Now I am ready to be done. 🙂

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