We often spend far too much time afraid to ask for what we want. But what’s the worst that can happen? The person or company you approached tells you no. So what? Then you can move on to someone else and see what they say.
I used to be so afraid of looking stupid and that would stop me from asking for what I wanted. I was less worried about rejection than I was about embarrassment. But now I’m in my mid-forties and I finally feel more secure in who I am, so I’m willing to look a bit foolish from time to time.
Recently I put myself out there to an editor that I really respect with what I knew was an unusual request but I filed it under the “nothing ventured, nothing gained” category. Well, the response was polite but essentially I was told that what I was asking was unprofessional.
Cue the shame spiral. I started to go down, fast and hard, berating myself about burning bridges and looking like a classic moron. But then I grabbed myself by the metaphorical lapels and talked myself through it, in a gentle, soothing voice. “It didn’t hurt to ask. It’s good to think outside of the box and go for it. A ‘no’ here is not a ‘no’ everywhere. Don’t worry so much about it.”
Giving ourselves permission to fail is just as important as building up our own confidence. We have to know that we aren’t going to get everything we want, but the lesson is in summoning the courage to ask the question. It’s good for my soul to step up, face my fear of doing it wrong in some vague manner, and be willing to accept whatever answer I receive.
Living small doesn’t serve any of us. It’s beyond time to move past that terrified reverence of the gatekeepers to our biggest dreams. The decision-makers in any organization are people just like you and me. I’m determined to keep trying new ideas until I find the right place for them, because the process of trying to innovate brings me life and stirs my passion.
Will I make mistakes? Most definitely. It’s so wonderful to be able to extend grace to myself when I hear yet another no. Asking the question takes guts and that’s worth celebrating. Eventually, somewhere in the future, there may come a yes. And if I never get to the yes, I’ll find another new question to ask and maybe that one will be more successful.
The bottom line is: life is short. We all have things we desperately want. Playing it safe doesn’t inch us closer to those dreams. You may as well ask for what you want. I’m tired of waiting. When I have an idea now, I don’t want to overthink it to death. I want to act on it, and see what happens, for one day it’s going to connect with the right person at the right time and then a new opportunity will be born.