Take a breath and ask what you want

What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen if you ask what’s on your mind?

You don’t want to ask what you’re curious about? What are you so afraid of? Excuse me as I take a second to be super cliché, but why should you wonder so much about something, when you can just, simply, ask it?

I understand many of us go through a hard time expressing ourselves or publicly speaking about things, but when I see people extremely curious about a certain topic and refusing to ask, I can’t help but wonder why. Not to sound very idealistic—I was one of those people at some point too. Then I started weighing my options and realized I only had two: I should contain my curiosity and just let it go, or I should ask and get an answer, and it won’t matter what this answer is because at least my curiosity will be put to an end. At least, regardless of whether the answer is good or bad, satisfying or irritating, I finally won’t have to keep wondering about it. This concept applies to anything in life, literally anything you’re too afraid to know the answer for. This includes your feelings toward something or someone, questions in class, holding an organization or anyone accountable, and many, many others. All it requires of you when this itching curiosity hits, is to scratch it by asking what’s on your mind. Yes, I know how hard it is. And yes, I understand how it does hurt in the gut, but the relief it follows is indeed worth it.

Asking shows you question your thoughts. Asking shows you want to be informed, or care about a situation that you have to know about. Asking shows you think critically. Otherwise your concealed questions could eventually depress you.

Let me particularly address situations that I hope you can find a way to relate to—one from a journalistic point of view, and the other from a social perspective. I believe the main goal of journalism is to bring hidden stories to light. Its goal is to investigate a situation, put it together, and bring it in a piece of writing to the people to understand it. But questions follow investigations, and risks follow those questions—lots of risks, particularly if you ask a wrong question, or if you’re digging in a place you’re not supposed to. However, as a journalist, I’d rather squeeze my brain until I find a way around with my questions without getting myself in trouble. Why? Because one, I believe in the importance of finding the answer; and two, because I’m not going to keep wondering about an answer that I know I can get. Or at the very least, know that I tried getting.

In my job as a journalist, there were so many times when I’ve seen people assuming things. They kept their curiosity growing to an extent that they chose the easy way out and made assumptions in their head, rather than ask questions and get proper answers. Assumptions are a mistake if they’re not well-studied for.

As for the social and general perspective, let me give a couple of simple examples. How many times have you been on the phone or facing someone while you’re requesting more information on anything, and although you still don’t get the full answer you want, you shy away from asking more questions? Well, how many times have you regretted not asking? Here’s another example: how many times have you been bombarded with strong emotions that you felt like you’ll burst if you don’t let them out to someone you had in mind? Well, how many times have you let yourself endure this irritation because you were too scared to ask—or in that case, to share your feelings—thinking it would hurt your ego? Well again, how many times has concealing your feelings and locking your questions upset you even more? How many times have you been in a class or lecture and although there was something you didn’t understand, you got too scared to raise your hand and ask about it, thinking you’ll look stupid or because of the fear of public speaking? How many times have you exited this class or lecture without asking, and feeling down because you thought to yourself, I could’ve gotten an answer? If you’ve nodded yes to any of these examples, then you’ve done it wrong. And if you can relate to any of these and still convince yourself it’s okay, then let me confront you with the truth: you are doing it wrong too.

However, you still have a chance. Believe me, I have been through all these phases a thousand times. But I’ve learned to work on it, to challenge myself, and to not keep my questions prisoned in my head. It’s going to scare you, and you’ll feel a pain in your gut while doing it. You’ll hesitate, and your hand could shake and you could stutter in your words. However, you will get there. You’ll get there because if you want to know about anything, you should let nothing stop you, and particularly if it’s your own fears that’s stopping you.

Lastly, ask yourself first, is shying away worth it? If not, then why the hold up? What’s the worst thing that could happen if you do ask? No response? A rejection? A sarcastic reply? An unsatisfying answer? Well, at least when you do ask, you will finally have an answer that you’ve been wondering about. You’ll be proud that you built courage and didn’t let yourself or anyone and anything else stop you from feeding your curiosity.