Closed Mouths Don't Get Fed: The Power of Asking for What You Want

The fear of rejection can stop you dead in your tracks.

“What if they don’t like it?”

“What if she says no?”

“What if people think it’s stupid?”

This fear is crippling. It stunts you, keeps you from realizing your best self as you could be. This fear is the antithesis to confidence, and if you’re a serial people-pleaser, you may fall victim to it easily. (I’m looking at you, all Sagittarians ever.) This article is not going to be a replacement for a professional counselor, nor your prescribed medications, etc. Instead, this is here as some advice, and as an example, and to show what I’ve learned over the past few years.

People like confidence. This much we all know. One thing anyone who knows me can tell you is I hate talking to people who beat around the bush, especially on important issues. I’m not saying you have to ignore someone’s feelings or sugarcoat things just a little bit for them, but on the whole, I want to know what is expected of me, and vice versa. I grew up hearing that closed mouths don’t get fed, and nowadays, that’s the mantra I live by. I learned, the hard way, that the people I come in contact with on the daily cannot read my mind. I was stuck in an endless loop of thinking, “I don’t feel appreciated,” “I don’t like it when [blank] does [blank] but they won’t stop,” “No one ever initiates anything with me.”

In the midst of all these thoughts, feeling sorry for myself, I wasn’t telling my friends and loved ones when I didn’t feel appreciated, when their behavior bothered me, or that my perception was that they never texted me first to hang out. And then it dawned on me: it wasn’t fair of me to expect things of people that I wasn’t communicating to them.

And then I figured out something that has changed my life: asking for what you want from life, even if you know you’re not always going to get it, is one of the biggest confidence boosters you can ever get. I know, it’s a tall order, and much easier said than done. And you can’t exactly just “overcome” your fear overnight. It takes practice.

One thing I have discovered that helps a lot: coming to the realization that getting a “no,” versus “not asking,” produces the same result. For example: there’s a big summer internship that has a difficult application process. Sure, the application process seems daunting, and you may be nervous. But guess what? If you don’t apply, you get the same exact outcome as if you do apply and get rejected. The only difference is, in the first scenario, you’re left forever wondering what could have been. If you, like me, hate cliffhangers, this will come easily to you.

                                                                                          (Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash)

For those of you that don’t, I’m gonna let you in on confident people’s best-kept secret: it’s all fake. Yes, you read that right, fake. Counterfeit, a sham, whatever you want to call it. There is a power in visualization, and I can tell you firsthand, visualizing yourself being an assertive person allows the action to follow. You are truly the only person who is ever gonna look out for yourself, in the end; why be a detractor? Be your own biggest cheerleader, and the world will follow. And if you’re worried people will see past the ruse? Well, people are usually pretty good at sniffing out fake emotions, I’ll give you that. But confidence? Not really. See it, be it.

Another thing that helped me: I made it my resolution to never reject any compliment that came my way. I realized that relentless self-flagellation helps no one, especially not me. Rejecting a kind word is just another method of denying yourself a blessing someone else has given you, no matter how small. And that is far ruder than trying to be “polite” by contradicting their compliment.

I know that overcoming this obstacle can and will be difficult. But you already have it in you. Having the courage and determination to face your fears and ask for what you want, when you want it, (even if the answer is sometimes “no,”) will only ever open more doors than it closes. That, I can guarantee.