I'm just like everyone else—I have things that I do well, and things that I have to work on. This post is going to deal with something that I could do a little bit better: ask.
I'm bad at asking for stuff. I'm bad at asking for help, I'm bad at asking girls out, I'm even bad at asking for upgrades at hotels and the like. I think it stems from a deep-seeded fear of rejection that exists from my childhood. I always have wanted to please others—I always got good grades, tried to do the best I could in school, and generally do as I was told. This pattern of behavior has rewarded me in school and my young career.
The problem is, it's tough to get what you want when you don't ask for it. What's the worst that could happen when you ask? The person will say "no." For some reason, in my head, it's much worse. Take asking for an upgrade at a hotel. When I go through it in my mind, I ask the clerk sheepishly, "Uh, is there any chance that I could get an upgrade…you know…for…uh…no additional charge?" The clerk then starts laughing and loudly calling me out on it, "HAHAHA—you stupid idiot! Not only can you not get an upgrade, but you don't even get your original room now! Good luck out on the streets! Did I mention that there's going to be a storm tonight, ass?"
I know it's twisted and weird, but this is the scene that goes through my mind. Now, I realize that nothing that bad would actually happen just by asking someone a question, but the point is that when the moment comes, I just clam up and end up frustrated. It happens all the time.
What I didn't realize until recently is that I have to take affirmative steps to get rid of this fear, or else it will leave me frustrated and semi-miserable for the rest of my life. I'm trying to take small steps to feel more comfortable asking for stuff. Asking for small things and building from there. I've realized I have to give up my quest to make everyone happy, and not be afraid to be "the difficult guy" every now and then. In reality, it's not even being difficult, it's just knowing what you want, and having the confidence to ask for it.
This goes for any number of fears—it's far better to try to face them head-on as opposed to gritting your teeth and failing to even try to overcome them. At least if you are trying to overcome fears, you're trying to grow and become a better person. When it comes down to it, that's all I'm trying to accomplish right now anyway.
I'll let you all know how it goes. Also, if anybody has any ways to overcome fears of heights and snakes, I'd appreciate it if you leave a comment.
Questions? Comments? Wondering what horrible depths of my crazy mind we'll explore next? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on twitter @djgelner.