All these things we say we’ll get to…
Shot down by the reasons not to…
The day I turned 23, I played basketball alone on the neighborhood courts just minutes from where I grew up. I remember it like it was yesterday. When I finished, I sat on the bench and fought back tears.
It’s sort of funny to me now. It wasn’t funny then.
I was upset about turning 23. Not because I thought that was old; I knew it wasn’t. But as I sat on that metal bench, wiping the sweat off my forehead, I realized that I was spinning my wheels at life. And it was my fault.
Five years after graduating high school, I was making $7 an hour part-time spinning records in a bowling alley.
I lived at home with my parents.
I slept on a waterbed.
I didn’t have a girlfriend.
I didn’t date.
AND I was losing my hair!
Are you depressed for me? On the outside, I exuded confidence, even cockiness. Inside, I was freaking out.
Three things were holding me back.
2. Refusal to accept that I was no longer a boy.
It turns out, my 23rd birthday was a pivotal day in my life. I decided that day, October 13, 1989 that I had to kick it into high gear. I humbled myself and discovered the power of the ask. I wanted to be in radio, so I asked a radio station to hire me. I wanted to write news, so I asked if I could be a news writer. I found a pretty girl and I asked her to dance. I was still afraid. I still am, but I could list a thousand things I asked people for. Sometimes the answer is “no.” Sometimes it’s “not yet.” And sometimes it’s “sure, kid.”
Asking comes with risk. One time, I boldly asked a big-time author if I could work for him. He told me he’d think about it. Then he blocked me from his social media and never responded to another call. But another author let me write a book with him.
Whatever the answer is, you’ll be okay.
I tell my daughters, who interestingly enough, turn twenty-three next year, to harness the power of the ask.
Life doesn’t get better by chance; it gets better by change.