I’ve never had an easy time asking for what I need.
Call it pride, stubbornness, or at best fierce independence, I’ve always adamantly believed that it is my sole responsibility to work for everything that I receive.
Perhaps it comes from being raised by a single mother.
Maybe I learned it from living in a country that values capitalism above all else.
Could it come from participating in a society that associates giving with strength and receiving with weakness?
Is it my desire to feel in control in a world that constantly reminds me that nothing can nor ever will be controlled?
On its deepest level could it be that I don’t believe that I deserve to have something for doing nothing but being me?
Traveling, especially alone, can make an otherwise self-sufficient person quite vulnerable.
Many times I have been lost, ill, injured, and generally confused.
In these situations, the help and generosity of others has not been offered, rather lovingly forced.
With language and cultural barriers, exhaustion and illness, more and more I find myself surrendering to the kindness that I am granted and accepting it without guilt.
A few days ago in Hoi An, a woman stopped me on the street when she saw the large bandage on my leg. I peeled back the gauze and revealed my infected three-inch burn. She sent her husband to the pharmacy, cleaned and dressed my wound, and refused to let me repay her for the supplies. Within a day it was nearly healed.
When I was hit with a fever in the Caribbean jungle a friend took me to his house, washed my laundry, cooked me soup, and watched over me for two days. Without even asking for my consent.
In Morocco on an overnight train a local woman slipped me a snack from her purse. During Ramadan. She had been starving all day.
It’s easy to wonder, why? Why would someone give something for nothing? Why me?
I believe it’s precisely these feelings of guilt and unworthiness that prevent us from asking for the things we want and need.
Think about it, if it’s this hard to accept completely unsolicited help how you could possibly ask for it?
As hard as it may be, I recognize that if I want growth, support, and opportunity, sometimes I have to ask. I have to humble myself by reaching out to others and letting them know what I need. And in order to ask, I have to believe that I am worth it.
Getting to where I am today, which honestly is no red carpet, has required me to ask far more often that feels comfortable.
In fact, my travels began with a plea.
When my dear friend Andrea told me her plans to escape to Costa Rica while writing her first book, “take me with you” was all I could say. She did and with those four words my life was never the same.
Creating my own freelance business and growing my blog means asking for opportunities every single day. For every writing assignment I land I apply to dozens of jobs. I spend hours contacting publications through their websites asking for the chance to feature my work, paid or unpaid.
Many times this makes me feel ashamed. It makes me feel weak or like a loser. So I dig deep to find the confidence that makes me feel worthy of asking, because I am.
I am also beginning to ask the universe.
I am beginning to release my desires and allow them to transpire even if they come wrapped in packages I don’t recognize or understand.
For me, this is hard.
Why I am so special that simply asking for what I need resolves in fulfillment of my hopes and dreams?
The truth is I may be special but there is absolutely nothing unique about that. Because as trite or cheesy as it sounds every single one of us is infinitely special and people and the world do not have limitations on how much they can give.
There is enough for every living thing to thrive.
Whether you believe in god, in the Earth, in humanity, or in nothing at all, I encourage you to ask.
Ask your family, a friend, a stranger, ask yourself, maybe even ask the universe for what you need.
You may notice that by simply asking you begin enacting behaviors that lead to your dreams being actualized. You may notice others begin to support you. You may notice that the entire universe begins to conspire to make it so.
What do you have to lose?
All you have to do is ask.