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  • Writer's picturetatum van dam

the importance of asking

Think about something you regret. It was something you didn’t do, wasn’t it?

When asked the question, what do you regret?, most people answer with the things they didn’t do, whether that be not trying out for a sports team, not telling someone they love/d them, or maybe (in my case), not being adventurous enough during their year abroad. Sure, it’s also natural to regret certain things we have done, but those things are generally short-lived - typically happening after doing something “dumb”, and fade away in two weeks or so.

If there is one thing I have learned in my twenty years of living on this planet, it has been to ask. There is a vast difference between saying you’re going to do something, and actually doing that “thing”. I could say that after I write this article, I’m going to clean my room. I could say that I’m going to buy the textbook I need to read by Tuesday. I could even say that I’m going to talk to the cute boy in my class. But am I really going to accomplish all of these? There is no meaning to any of the things I listed above - or at least no full meaning until I actually do said things. Whether you are asking a teacher for help, asking someone for their phone number, or even asking a college or program to accept you, it is important to just go for it.

When it comes to asking questions or speaking up, it is completely okay to be scared. I’m a nervous person. I always have been, and probably always will be (to an extent). With the lovely effects of social anxiety, one of the hardest things for me to do is what seems to be a simple task; to speak. I tend to create possible outcomes in my head, prohibiting me from wanting to express my thoughts out loud. As humans, we set expectations for certain things, and these expectations can lead to feelings of fear or anxiety. Once you can get past the invisible barrier that only you have built up for yourself, your possibilities are endless. It’s important to remember that in reality, nobody really knows anything, and nobody really cares aside from yourself. There is no such thing as a stupid question, you can’t blame yourself for not knowing what you don’t know.

Just like the scene from We’re The Millers, we should all be living with “no ragrats” (y’know what I’m sayin’?). We cannot let imagined expectations, overthinking, or fear interfere with our everyday lives. By taking risks and stepping outside of our comfort zones, we are able to challenge our beliefs and perhaps even motivate us to be a better version of ourselves. It’s a simple quote, but it’s true - live your life to the fullest. Try to keep your list of regrets at an all time low. Don’t be afraid of what could happen when you take the risk. It’s merely a figment of your imagination.

I’m not trying to insinuate that every time you ask a question, or do the “thing”, you are going to get the exact outcome you want. Even way back when, Shakespeare knew that all stories do not have happy endings. Rejection is a thing that exists. A thing that happens. A thing that can often suck; however, it is not a matter of whether you get rejected or not - it’s a matter of how you handle that rejection (I speak from experience when I type this). Whether that be rejection from a sports team or a person, it isn’t a fun feeling.

Long story short: my senior year of high school, I was in no way, shape, or form prepared for college applications. I had convinced myself that these two certain schools were the “perfect ones” for me, and I got rejected from both - along with half of the other places I applied to. I chose to handle my rejection by studying abroad in Paris for a year - an experience I would not trade for the world. It still sounds surreal to even say I lived in the city of love and lights for a whole year.

And in doing so, I ended up getting accepted into a school I would have never thought I’d ever get into. This taught me that maybe, rejection isn’t so bad after all. And more importantly, that life has it’s weird ways of working out.

My point in writing this article is to emphasize the key to success is to ask. If I had never asked, I would not have photographed some of my favorite artists at a music festival. If I had never asked, I would not have been able to speak to Dax Shepard and Ellen Degeneres about dating advice on live television (yes, this did occur). If I had never asked, I wouldn’t have undergone the most life changing experience ever that is studying abroad. If I had never asked, I wouldn’t have met some of my life long friends. If I had never asked, I would have many missed opportunities. If I had never asked, I couldn’t even begin to imagine where I would be today.

Just like the Nike slogan says, (or Shia LeBeouf, depending on who you are as a person), just do it. You never know unless you try… or in this case, ask.

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