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Mental Health

Women and Asking — A Complicated Relationship

“Ask, and you shall receive,” the old saying goes. As amazing women trying to succeed in our colleges and careers, it’s so important to remember to ask. I think that women, especially, are conditioned by society to ask for as little as possible. We’re taught to make ourselves small to fit into the ideals of what it means to be feminine: soft, undemanding, and quiet. As a woman and as a first-generation child of immigrant parents, I wasn’t really raised to ask for help —  I was raised to tough things out even at the expense of my mental health. For those of us who, for whatever reason, need a little extra push to ask for what we need, this article is for you.

Asking for things like support, a raise, or respect sounds so simple… after all, all there physically is to it is to open your mouth. The mental part of it is what’s tricky and what needs to be mastered. Asking, and being open to receiving, are incredibly important life skills: they signify that you’re not ignoring or suppressing what you’re going through. Instead, you’re trusting and respecting yourself enough to be heard and get what you need.

A lot of us definitely have these ingrained ideas that we need to do it all ourselves or not inconvenience other people. The reality, though, is that we need other people, especially now in such a hyperconnected world. Don’t worry, though, asking is a habit that can be practiced — I work on it every day in the small moments and also the bigger situations. Are you wondering about getting funding for a project from your school? Ask. Have a dream internship and wonder how to secure an interview? Ask. Want to take that relationship to the next level? Ask. See the pattern? Go for it! The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no. In my experience, though, I’m constantly surprised at how willing people are to help if you’re just willing to reach out.

Practically speaking, it’s now easier than ever to ask because of the internet. Ask for feedback, opportunities, and advice from those who’ve done what you want to do. If you’re lonely, there’s a community of billions out there. Never forget that you have tons of resources at your fingertips, 24/7.  If you feel stuck in a rut, you always have the ability to change that with a few keystrokes.

At the same time, I’m learning to give back. I ask, and I am open to being asked, especially when it comes to other women. Simple acts of women helping each other every day is how our networks are  built and movements are established. This is how we claim our power in society. I’m a huge believer in the idea that having strong communication skills is non-negotiable for women (if you couldn’t already tell). Communicating what you want and need out of your relationships, education, and career is all in the service of one goal: to give yourself the best life possible. As I’ve written before, it’s time for us women to stop minimizing ourselves to make everyone else comfortable. Never minimize yourself. Ask, demand, question — you might be surprised at how much bigger your life can be when you do.

“Ask and you shall receive,” that old quote goes. Here’s my take on it: if you never ask, you’ll never receive as much as you should! And here’s a new quote for you: “Not every closed door is locked… push.” If you want it, make it happen, because you deserve to get what you want. Don’t acquiesce. Push.


Fatima Kuyateh is a writer for the Dartmouth Her Campus branch. She is passionate about storytelling — always attempting to use her words to make what seems mundane into the extraordinary. She is the creator of blackbeautyblog, a social media platform dedicated to social justice and all forms of black excellence and beauty. As an NYC native, Fatima can frequently be found daydreaming on the subway and furiously jotting down ideas lest they be forgotten at a train stop. https://www.instagram.com/blackbeautyblog/
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