— Ivan W. Lam (@IvanWLam) October 29, 2014
I ask for what I want.
Asking for something is different from getting it. Most of the time, and for most things, you need to ask before you get.
I asked myself to see the Eiffel Tower, to see Machu Picchu, to see the northern lights, etc. in order to learn, to grow, and to experience life. I asked myself for some time to replenish, to reflect, and to determine my next steps.
To make all of that happen, I need to ask my work for time off. But how will they react? Will they punish me just for asking? Wouldn’t it be easier if I just leave my job? Is this worth doing at all?
Ultimately, these are boring questions, generated through uncertainty and fear. Besides, the answers already exist anyway. Practically speaking, the answers already exist through other people’s past experiences. Spiritually speaking, they already exist within myself; only I know what I want to do and what I think is right for me.
Fortunately, my managers were very supportive and I was able to take my time off. Had their response been different, I would have gone a separate route to accomplish what I wanted: Perhaps I could have taken less time off, or I could have left the job. But whatever would have happened, I would still find a way to achieve what my goal.
Throughout this year planning the trip, and on this trip itself, I had to perform hundreds of interactions asking someone for things. Had I not have asked, I would not have been able to get my replacement credit and debit cards sent to my next destination after I lost my wallet on the second day of the trip; I would not have found a less disruptive way to get back into the Airbnb host’s house after losing the keys in the middle of nowhere after dark on a northern lights tour; I would not have gotten my wallet back after receiving a call from the transportation manager at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta that my descriptive email and plea to check the shuttle busses sooner rather than later helped her find the bus I was looking for; and I would not have been recommended by a coworker and gone to a restaurant in London for lunch, where I found some random WiFi and received a message from my former manager (one of the very managers who approved my time-off) that she was in town, and we ended up in a personal guided tour of the South Bank.
But despite these trip-saving examples, I think the most important benefit to asking is having peace of mind. If asking allows me to remove the nagging thoughts that occupy my consciousness and helps me sleep at night, even if it was probably “safe to assume” I was right and didn’t really have to ask, it’s still very much worth doing.
Finally, if you ask and are successful, you get what you want. If you ask and are less than successful, you’ll learn something from the experience. If you don’t ask, your fate will depend mainly, if not solely, on others and the universe.