How to be upfront

Am I pushy or demanding?

There are multiple times where I have caught myself staring at the screen of my phone whilst in the middle of a heated argument with my mother or my boyfriend, thinking, “Why don’t you see what I’m feeling or what I’m asking for?” I would try (to no avail) to communicate this telepathically. When that (obviously) didn’t work, I would proceed to drop large hints all over the place. There was no way I could say upfront what was wrong or what I wanted fixed. I was too afraid of causing a larger conflict and too afraid that what I may ask for was unreasonable.

In another instance, when my family and I were staying as guests at a family friend’s house, I simply could not bring myself to ask the hosts for their wifi password. It simply felt wrong — here we were as their guests and I couldn't bear the thought of using their wifi as it would have been an added expense for them to deal with. I remember my sister giving me the most incredulous look when I told her my issue. She thought I was being plain idiotic and without missing a beat, she politely requested the wifi password from our hosts. I was left thinking, asking myself why on earth it was so hard for me to request such a small thing. What was more, I felt like a bit of a coward for not being upfront.

Feeling afraid and cowardly are correlated — the former causing the latter. I have spent much of my time wondering where this fear stems from, and how I can eradicate it altogether. I have come to the conclusion that the fear of confrontation comes from the fear of appearing pushy or demanding. Anything from asking for a favor to asking for the last piece of cake appears to me like a lack of consideration for other people. It feels like I am greedy or even spoiled — emotionally and materialistically — when I ask for something.

Feeling emotionally pushy comes across the most in relationships — romantic, friendly, familial, etc. I have always had to work up the courage to address a certain issue about others’ attitudes, what they’ve said, and so on, especially if it is something that bothers me. While this may cross over into the realm of ‘standing up for myself’ in situations, to me it mostly appears as being non-confrontational. It is easy to avoid conflict simply by not saying anything reactionary and therefore, this sometimes translates into staying silent about something I want to see changed.

Being materialistically demanding concerns anything from asking my parents for permission or for money to asking my friend to pick up something for me at the grocery store. Before resorting to asking, I think of alternative methods of how I can obtain these items for myself and therefore avoid asking others to do it for me. Strangely enough, I forget these people — my friends and family — are closest to me as my friends and family. They would be as happy to respond to my needs and wants, as I am to reciprocate the favor. If they could not help, they would courteously say ‘no’ and not create a fuss over my request.

Over time, I’ve realized I can quickly resolve misunderstandings if I just plainly say what is bothering me. I’ve realized asking for things clearly has made life easier for the other party as well and not just for me. For instance, I used to work at a convenience store on Grounds as a student cashier. Inexplicably, I would always end up with Friday and Saturday night shifts because no one else was willing to take them. Ridiculously so, I figured someone would take pity on me and be willing to take one of those nights so I could have it off. Of course, this did not work. Once again, I found myself in a position where I wished people could read my mind and have a sudden revelation.

In the end, I mustered up the courage to address the issue with my friend who also worked at the store with me. The moment I told her my problem, she looked at me and asked in an incredulous voice, “Well why didn’t you tell me before?!” Just like that, my dilemma had been solved in a matter of seconds, because I had been straightforward about what I wanted.

By beating around the bush about my demands, I probably create more uncertainty and possibility for miscommunication rather than avoiding it. Most of all, I’ve realized I should never be ashamed to ask for something. I’ve realized that by asking, I am not forcing the other person to comply — they are free to refuse me. However, if I never ask, I will never know and never be able to get what I want. The key to being upfront is remembering that what I want is just as important as what other people around me want. Therefore, I’m being unfair to myself if I do not push for that.

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