I have yet to meet a single person who is all the way to where they’d like to be in life.
We’re all at least partially there. Maybe we’re working jobs we like but we’re not making the money we’d like to be making. Maybe we’re dating someone we’re crazy about but we’re not where we’d like to be professionally. Maybe we’re a little bit satisfied in some ways but not entirely satisfied overall.
‘Oh well,’ we tell ourselves, ‘this is normal; it’s how life’s meant to be. After all, you can’t have it all.’
But is that really true?
We were all raised to expect that things would progress a certain way. We’d go to school, graduate, apply for several jobs in our field, acquire one, get asked out or pursued by an attractive stranger, date them, get married, have a family, retire and then die. It seemed simple enough – it seemed like the life we deserved, because it was the one we were told we would have.
But then something drastic happened – the world changed. And by the time we entered the phase of our lives where things were supposed to start seamlessly falling into place the way we were raised to believe they the would, we instead found ourselves in one huge jumble of a world that was nothing like our successors promised it would be.
Some people adjusted to this world with flying colors. Your buddy from high school became a travel writer, somehow. Your old colleague from bar you used to serve at started a business from scratch and now makes millions (Or at least hundreds of thousands). People met the love of their lives, traveled to far away places, succeeded with flying colors and blazed their own trails. And the rest of us sat behind our desks with crinkled foreheads, wondering how the hell they made all of that happen.
We figured they got lucky. That they knew the right person or cashed in on a trust fund or stumbled into the right opportunity at the right time. We drew distinctions between what they had that we do not which must, necessarily, have led them to where they are now. But we never stopped to consider the most likely explanation as to why those people got to where they are and we didn’t:
Maybe – just maybe – they got what they wanted because they asked for it.
Maybe it’s actually that simple.
It sounds ridiculous when you say it. Nobody wakes up one morning, walks up to the closest stranger says, “Excuse me, could you fund me to travel the world, and/or invest in my start-up?” And then finds themselves smack dab in the middle of everything they’ve ever wanted from life. It’s more complex than that – of course it is. But it starts with asking. It continues with asking. It ends with asking. It is driven by the shameless, unquenchable belief that you deserve more than you have – and that it would be in someone else’s best interests to give it to you.
Because that’s the thing about too many of us – some part of us, no matter how small, believes that we don’t deserve any more than what we have. That if we were worth more, if we were capable of more, if we were truly and honestly deserving of having more, someone would recognize that in us and give it to us. We assume that the outcome is always a fair representation of the conditions. But that’s not always the case. In fact, the outcome could almost always be wildly altered by a simple shift in attitude.
It’s rarely comfortable to ask for something. The fear of rejection is monstrous and all-consuming. And yet all of the best things in life are on the other side of asking. Because here’s the truth that none of us want to admit:
Nobody’s going to ask you on that date they don’t know you want to go on. Nobody’s going to hand you the dream job you haven’t applied for. Nobody’s going to give you the raise you never asked for and nobody’s going to check in on you to make sure you’re happy and healthy and doing okay if you’re not giving them any indication that you’re not.
I would love to live in a world where good people were scouted out and bestowed everything they truly deserved. But that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world where if you want something, you have to ask for it. You have to fight for it. You have to stand up and declare yourself worthy of having it, because nobody’s going to do it for you. Less for you means more for them. And people always want that more for themselves.
Because they applied for that job. Demanded that raise. Asked that person out or refused to settle for less than they knew that they deserved. Those people didn’t sit around and wait for someone to discover all that they were really capable of. They went out and showed the world. And then they reaped the rewards.
So today, ask yourself this: What do I want out of life? What do I know that I’m capable of? Which kind of life do I wish I were leading?
And then ask yourself the one question that has the power to change it all: When am I going to start advocating for that life at last?