Life has just not been going my way lately. I’ve been sitting here for thirty minutes trying to think of a better way to say it than that—a way that sounds a little more mature and a little less entitled, but no matter how I boil it down, it really comes back to that. Things have not been going my way and I’ve been feeling frustrated and depressed and sad about it.
This is not a new feeling for me.
That is, the sense that no matter how hard I work to get the outcome I want—in my marriage, in my career, in my friendships, in my life—I get a different one. And maybe this is the reason why it’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in it.
Too often, I find myself in a place where I think, “maybe no matter how hard I try, things won’t ever get better for me.”
It was in this state of frustration and despair that I found myself at a friend’s house a few weeks ago, crying and desperate for advice. She listened to my story and let me get it all out—even the part where I was complaining and blaming and feeling really sorry for myself. She’s a good friend like that.
Then, when I was all finished, she asked if I could name a few things I thought would help my circumstances.
I had a few specific things in mind.
They were fairly simple. I wanted a car, first of all. It’s hard to explain why this mattered so much to me, but my husband and I have been sharing for a few years and I’ve tried to be a really good sport about it. After all, it was saving us money and we’d been trying to get a good buffer in our savings account and get out of debt.
But at this point I was feeling like not having my own car was really holding me back from what I wanted to accomplish.
The second thing I wanted was a few people who I could talk to, who knew how much I was struggling. For the most part, I told her, I felt like I was going through this alone, and just knowing a few other people knew how I felt would make me feel a little bit better.
After I finished, she was quiet for a minute.
Then she asked, “Have you asked for those things?”
Instantly, a thousand excuses came to my mind—excuses about how much money it was going to be to buy a new car and how my husband would never go for it because then we’d have to get insurance and how I would tell people how much I was struggling but “I’m new in town” and “I don’t really have a lot of friends…”
But the longer my explanation became, the more I realized everything I was saying was just an excuse.
It was just a bunch of junk in the way of the truth—which was that I hadn’t asked.
I hadn’t asked for any of the things I wanted.
I hadn’t said any of it out loud. I had been trying to be a good sport about things, trying to go with the flow, trying to give everyone else what they wanted, hoping someday someone would notice what I wanted, too, and would go out of their way to give it to me.
But I hadn’t done the simplest thing you can possibly do and just asked for what I needed.
I went home that day and asked my husband if he could talk. I told him how much I really wanted a new car. I launched into my whole explanation, but before I could even finish explaining, he was on craigslist, searching for a car. And within 48 hours, I had one.
It was really that easy.
Since then, I’ve made it a point to start speaking up about what I want and being honest about what I need. The other day, I got my hair done and the minute my stylist was done I told her, “I don’t like the color. Can we do it a little darker next time?”
I never would have said something like that before. I would have felt like I was being picky and rude. But this time I said it.
I could tell it made my stylist a little uncomfortable, but you know what? She also jumped to fix the problem.
Then, later in the week, I went to dinner with friends.
When my dinner came, it wasn’t what I ordered. Usually, I would have just “gone with flow” and picked around the things I didn’t like. I wouldn’t have wanted to make a scene or draw any attention to myself. But this time I decided I was going to say something.
I was going to ask for exactly what I wanted.
So, I let my server know. And within minutes, I had what I had ordered.
I’m not sure why this has felt so hard for me.
When I write it here it seems rather stupid. It seems like it should be pretty easy.
But I guess there’s a difference between simple and easy. And sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest ones to actually execute.
I’ve always been the “go with the flow” girl, the “flexible” girl, the “whatever-you-want” kind of girl. But I’m over it. I’m speaking up about what I want.
And chances are, most of the time, I might actually get it.