For as long as I can remember, I have had a difficult time asking for what I want. As a child, I remember when everyone had an IM account (this is the oldest sentence you will hear today) and I was scared to ask my parents if I could get one as well. When I go over to a friend’s house and I’m starving, I rarely ever say anything about it, unless he or she bring it up first. I hoped when I entered college, my habits would change. Some have, but I am still terrible about asking for what I want. It has taken me a while to understand why I need to tackle this fear head on: if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. So here are five things I’ve been keeping in mind while interacting with others:
1. You may ask for something and the answer may very well (and quite often is) a resounding NO. That’s okay. I have started asking for what I want a lot and I get met with a lot of no’s. But I also get a lot of yeses. The world keeps spinning. I keep asking. There’s an expression that goes something like: One bad day doesn’t make a bad life. One no doesn’t mean a lifetime of no’s.
2. You have to know what you want. But you can change your mind. Isn’t that the part of the deal that we forget? I can wake up tomorrow and say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” I get to say that if I choose to. It is my life. But then I have to start asking myself: Well, what do I want then? And then be willing to be with the answers. And the answer might be: I have no idea what I want. Guess what? That’s okay. Keep asking. Keep looking. Ask for clarity.
3. You are worth it. Tattoo that on your brain. Seriously. The world starts to respond when we believe that about ourselves. It doesn’t always look like we thought it would but shifts begin to take place when we start to realize and acknowledge our self-worth.
4. Getting told no does not mean you suck. I recently submitted a piece to a literary magazine only to realize that it didn’t work—the editor asked me to redo it. The same day I got a rejection letter for what I thought was the best essay I had ever written. Guess what? I better take a few minutes, allow myself to be disappointed, then buck up and get writing. If we believed that we sucked every time that someone told us no, we would never write books or cook meatballs or go on dates or have babies.
5. Being scared of asking for what we want is pretty much par for the course. Do it anyway. I think it is much scarier to be say, ninety years old, looking back and saying, I lived my life in fear. I wanted to write a book and I was too scared to ask for it, or whatever it was that we were afraid to ask for from life. Author Gayle Brandeis says, “Fear is just an interesting sensation. You don’t need to give it more power than that.”