Sometimes You Just Have to Ask

I’ve found that I’m getting a little bit bolder in my semi old age, and I think that this is a positive thing. I always used to be afraid that I was bothering people or inconveniencing them, so I would just lie low, even if there was something on my mind. I’m starting to get over that a little bit, and a few recent experiences have made me realize that sometimes you just have to ask for what you want. For example: I had exchanged a few tweets with an editor from a big website that I’d been trying to pitch without much luck. I was really nervous to ask for more specific information about where to send pitches, but did it anyway. I figured the worst that could happen is she ignored me or told me never to contact her again. Turns out she got back to me right away and couldn’t have been nicer.

When you’re putting yourself out there, it’s easy to think about all of the things that could happen. For example: they could say no. They could ignore your e-mail. They could get mad at you. They could laugh. But once you shift your attention away from those worries, it’s much easier to just go after what you want. Plus, what are the chances that those negative things actually happen? Probably slim.

This concept is applicable in many different situations. For instance:

You want to take on a new project at work, but you’re afraid your boss will think it’s a ridiculous idea. Instead you just keep doing what you’ve been doing and hating it. 

Is it awkward and scary to face rejection? Completely. Is there the potential for embarrassment? Probably. Is it worth it? Definitely. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried. If it does work out then you get to be involved in what you’ve had your eye on doing at work.

You’ve been interested in this guy you always run into at your local Starbucks. You chat occasionally, but that’s about it. 

Enough of this 1950s “he has to ask you out” business. Chances are that he’s interested too and is also too afraid to do anything. Put yourself out there and invite him to do something. Worst case scenario? He runs screaming for the hills. More likely scenario? He’s excited and all about it.

I’ll give you another example (one that happened to my friend recently): You’re getting ready to renew your lease, but don’t really feel like dealing with a price increase. Why not ask your landlord if she can help you out a little bit? Maybe the answer is no. Hey, at least you tried. But maybe the answer is yes and then you can save yourself a bunch of money. And go buy something cool. Who doesn’t like to buy things that are cool?

It’s easy to assume that the answer in an uncertain situation is an automatic no. While this may be true sometimes, it’s often not the case. In fact, you’re probably going to get some kind of positive answer more often than not. Taking the risk can end up bringing in some big rewards. If you’re feeling nervous, remember: what’s the worst case scenario? If it’s only temporary embarrassment, it’s definitely worth the risk.


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