I try to live by these words that were once given to me by author and mentor Christina Baldwin: “Ask for what you need. Offer what you can.”
I admit I’m better with offering than with asking. But I don’t think I’m alone in that. Asking for what we need (or want) is tricky business in a culture that eschews vulnerability. Asking can make me feel squeamish, nervous or downright afraid. At its worse, it can feel shameful. Yet how can we expect to thrive – which, in and of itself implies the need for interconnectivity – if we’re not willing to ask?
And offering, too, can also be sticky business. I’m an extroverted hermit, who loves to come out of the cave for brief periods of concentrated, inspiring sharing time. I am not the neighbor with the casserole, or the volunteer who organizes local food drives. But I do, very intensely, desire to make of my life an offering.
And I think this is where a lot of us get hung up. We think that to ASK means we’re putting our self worth on the line, when really we’re just being truthful about what we need. We care so much about how that truth will be received or rejected that we’ve stopped asking all together, which means we’ve stopped sharing our truth. When we do that, relationships are one sided at best, and often stilted and stagnant at worst.
We also think that to OFFER is to be the good samaritan, going above and beyond to do the sainted thing. Fuck that. I say offering is kindness, and kindness can look like anything. It can look like you saying a prayer for a friend while you sit in your PJs on the couch watching reality TV. It can look like you singing a bawdy song to your coworker because she’s having a hard day. It can look like you smiling at the person next to you in the grocery line.
You don’t have to be good. You don’t have to be perfect. You only have to be you, and offer what bubbles up naturally from the process of you being you. This is enough. You don’t have to stretch and contort yourself to help others. You get to honor your nature, listen to your innermost truth, and do what feels right in your gut. This is all the kindness that is needed. You are enough.
So tell me, when did you ask for something that you really wanted/needed – and GOT IT?
When did you offer something that comes naturally to you and found that it made a difference? How did that make you feel?