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The Fear of Asking

There’s this thing (relationship, arrangement, or opportunity) that you’ve always wanted. You think maybe… just maybe you could have it…but you’re afraid to ask that person you’ve placed so high upon a pedestal for it.  You can’t find the words…can’t bring yourself to do it. Your inhibitions limit you and worse, you feel ashamed because you know that you’re letting the fear stop you. You try to block it out but it’s an emotional boomerang – it keeps coming back and hitting you upside your overly analytical head.

Your heart aches for it but you struggle to feel deserving of it. You’re concerned that you’ll be imposing and they’re so busy… You don’t want to be a burden… This is fear talking. It’s easy to find a million reasons not to do the thing you’re afraid to do.

Maybe you’re one of us. You’re trying to get something that should have always been yours. So much was denied us earlier in life. It taught us to not get our hopes up and keep our expectations low. In this way we deprive ourselves. We learned to ignore our own needs, wants, and feelings. Can you let yourself believe/hope/go after what you long for? You skirt the edges. You flirt with the idea and turn it over endlessly in your mind. You’re beyond exasperated with yourself. Keep going. When you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired you’ll do it.

You’re like a kid with their toe in the sand. Your eyes are cast downward. Paralyzed with fear and on the brink of tears you teeter. Afraid to stand still and afraid to move forward. Can’t breathe. Wanna run home and hide. You’re wishing you could climb back under the covers and maybe try again tomorrow.

“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.” – Bill Cosby

You stare up at the person on the pedestal and force yourself to speak. It all comes out horribly. You’re lost in your words and nothing makes sense and they just stand there patiently waiting for you to say something coherent. They’re so kind and somehow that makes it all worse. Stop. Take a deep breath.

You stammer and you talk in circles and you’re sweating and your stomach wants to empty everything you’ve eaten in the past five years. You finally get it all out and you just stand there dreading and not knowing what to do with your hands. They smile and say something impossible like, “Sure. I’d love to.” You want to feel relieved but it’s too much to take in. You’ll wonder why you ever agonized over this.

This is how chosen families get made. It’s how partnerships (romantic, business, and collaborative) are born. It’s as simple as recognizing that we can do together is so much greater than what we can do alone.

When we’re honest with ourselves about the support and guidance that we need; we’re left with the options of facing the fear of asking for it or playing small. Settling sucks. It’s easy to do, but not without lying to yourself. Settling is just indefinite procrastination or convincing yourself that it’s not really an option to have more. This is almost never the case.

There’s an old adage that if you want something done, ask someone who’s busy. Let’s build on that. In your network of family, friends, colleagues, and coworkers there are at least a small number of very cool people you’d like to be closer to/do more with. Maybe you want to learn from them because they know stuff that you don’t. Maybe they’re doing amazing things. Maybe they’re just having a helluva lot more fun then you are. Here’s the thing – somebody helped them get where they are and there’s an excellent chance that they’d love to pay it forward.

We put people on pedestals because they appear to have it all together. They appear to be unafraid but they’re not. They have chosen not to allow the fear to stop them. They have the courage to want more, have more, and be more. Be one of them.

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