“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” It’s advice my father used to tell me all the time growing up. I used to roll my eyes every time he said it because he would say it so frequently. The reason he probably said it so often was because it was something I needed to hear.
I took his advice to heart and would use it in certain areas of my life where I felt comfortable, particularly in relationships and in other more minor circumstances, like asking for extra plates at a restaurant. But I didn’t fully incorporate the lesson into all areas of my life until recently.
This was particularly true for me in the workplace. I’m not sure if it’s because I am a woman and I was raised to be more submissive when it came to working or if I was afraid to lose my job, but I rarely used to ask for things at work. I used to just accept things the way they were. I accepted low wages and large workloads, and I would perform various tasks and favors I was not comfortable with because I was afraid of the outcome. Sometimes, without realizing it, I would seethe in anger, but I wouldn’t say anything about it. I was too self-unaware to understand that I was angry—it manifested instead as severe anxiety. I was too afraid to actually ask for what it was that I wanted.
Sometimes when people say things so many times to us, we begin to tune it out, especially when it comes from our parents. We take them and what they say for granted. We think we have incorporated the lesson into our psyche, replying, “Yeah, I know,” but perhaps we have actually been taking it for granted.
Or perhaps we are not meant to learn the lesson until it is time to understand it, until it finally clicks. I had one of these moments today when I realized I was about to take a job in which I would be underpaid for my labor. That’s when I heard my father’s advice in my head, loud and clear: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” If you don’t ask, you don’t get. IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T GET.
It was hard for me to ask for higher wages, because I was in a situation in which I really needed a job and the pay was decent to begin with. However, based upon what I’d be doing, the labor was worth a lot more than I would be getting paid.
You have to use your voice to ask for what is fair, what is right, and what is meant for you. It can be hard to do, especially if you have been accustomed to existing in the world from a place of fear and lack, such as I had been my entire life. When we are controlled by fear, we are not able to let in the love and abundance that we deserve.
This not only applies to jobs but in other areas of life as well. Try asking for something from someone and you might be surprised at their reaction. It never hurts to ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no. From there you can either negotiate or take the offer off the table.
In the earlier days of my youth, I had a lot of negative black and white thinking patterns in which I began to reject everything my parents told me because some of the things they said to me were harmful. I was acting out of emotion rather than logic. As much as my parents may have screwed me up, they equally prepared me to lead a successful life. They were trying the best they could, and they weren’t perfect. We tend to focus on the negative as humans, because pain seems to feel heavier than pleasure, especially when we are young, and it feels unfair that we had to experience it, but the positive is just as true as the negative. Everyone goes through tough times, though some are certainly tougher than others.
This piece of advice that my father gave to me is one of the best ones I have ever received, and I’m lucky to have gotten it from him.