“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” ~Maya Angelou
It all started when a student of mine gave me three tortoises.
Well, it actually all started when I mastered the art of using the potty on a toilet. The prize I chose for this feat was a tortoise stuffed animal. Maybe I’ll tell this story another time.
I live on the island of St Croix – home to the largest Leatherback Sea Turtle nesting site in the United States. It is also home to Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbill Sea Turtles, and Red-Footed Tortoises. I love all turtles – and I have for as long as I can remember. The Leatherback is the most unique, and it is my favorite. But, let’s get back to Torti Town.
Red-Footed Tortoises are a common pet on St Croix. After I had been here a year and a half – long enough to feel a bit settled – I knew I was ready to care for some tortoises of my own. Pet tortoises aren’t easily found at first. So how does one go about finding a pet tortoise?
Like everything else in life, often the best way to get what you want is to ask for it!
“You create your opportunities by asking for them.” ~Shakti Gawain
In early November, 2018, I wrote in large letters on the whiteboard of my classroom: Ms. Tracy wants 3 Tortoises!!
On our first day back to school after Christmas break, in early January, 2019 – just a couple months later – the student in the pic above brought me an amazing gift:
To get an idea of size, the blue lid in the picture is from a jar of peanut butter. The names of the tortoises, from left to right, top to bottom: Pfeiffer, Alex, and Calypso.
When I received the tortoises, Torti Town was not quite ready for them. They were too small for me to put them in the outdoor enclosure, anyway. But their arrival definitely sped up the completion of Torti Town.
Here is how Torti Town looked in January, 2019 (compared to now):
And that is how it all began – I asked for what I wanted.
Torti Town has grown a lot since then! But I am grateful for its beginning. And I am grateful that I had the courage to ask for what I wanted (then I quickly prepare to get it)!
I am not a psychologist or sociologist, so I haven’t done research on why people don’t ask for the things they want. But I have listened to friends who have been disappointed or have not gotten the things they desire, and often when I inquired if they asked for those very things, my question was met with silence.
I asked some friends why they think people hesitate to ask for what they want. Here are some thoughts (this is kind of like research, right?):
- N (male): Because they don’t know what they want.
- L (female): Fear. They think they are not worthy; rejection.
- L (female): We live in a society where you have to ask permission for everything. So people feel they don’t deserve the thing they want, and they don’t have permission to ask for it.
- D (male): Sometimes they’re afraid. Or don’t feel comfortable. Sometimes it truly isn’t appropriate. Depends on the situation.
- p(female): One of my favorite scriptures and I quote it constantly to myself, “You have not, because you ask not.” James 4:2. To ask for something, we have to humble ourselves and pride gets in the way. Humility is not very popular in today’s society, where narcissism reins. To me it seems the root of all reasons we don’t ask can be traced back to pride.
- E (male): Don’t believe in the power of the universe!
- S (male): Cowardice. Afraid of being chastised for asking, maybe. I used to be this way btw.
- D (female): Women (me) tend to be pleasers. We take pride in the joy of others, even if it means sacrificing our own needs. Definitely not right – but it happens.
- S (male): I can only speak for myself and maybe for other men of my generation. I was raised to be chivalrous and to be a gentleman ( although I do fail a bit lol). Part of that is self denial, putting other people’s needs and desires above your own. It’s almost like praying for my own needs, I’ve never been comfortable with it. At this point its just part of who I am.
There were many more responses, with the most common being that the person is scared or afraid, fears rejection, or lacks confidence. Other common responses were they felt unworthy or undeserving, or their pride got in the way.
When I think about the description words used in the responses, these are not words I want written on my headstone – not the words I want to describe me or my life. They are not the words I want to hear people use to describe my friends or my family.
While doing a little searching on this topic, I found this article from Tiny Buddha
, written by Alexandra Latos. Maybe there’s a tip in here that can help us figure out how to ask for what we want.
It’s ok to hear “no.” Let’s work on that. In my world, “no” usually means: “not this route.” It doesn’t mean that I can’t have the thing I want. It means I need to find another path. Of my 70-some students, only one said, “yes” to my plea for tortoises. And that’s all I needed.
Here’s a challenge for all of us: share something you want – then ask for it! I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
Stay tuned for more Tales from Torti Town.