“It may sound paradoxical, but strength comes from vulnerability. You have to ask the question to get the answer, even though asking the question means you didn’t know.”–Majid Kazmi
Asking queries to people, this is something I’ve struggled with all my life. When I was in school, I avoided asking any doubts related to studies to my teachers/professors. The memories go back as far as my kindergarten days. I was asked by my class teacher to give a book to a teacher from another class division. I was in kindergarten, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t exactly complete the task as required and was slapped by my class teacher in return. A few years later, I was appointed as the class monitor in 4th standard. I was just 10 years old, yet I felt an unnecessary burden on me to be best at everything I was asked to do. I have no clue why I pressurized myself with this unnecessary expectation. I had not completed many tasks in the manner my teacher wanted to and was taunted/scolded by my class teacher. I believed that I was incapable and inefficient to take up the role of a class monitor. I truly believed that my class teacher couldn’t count on me for any work and hated me for not being “the absolute best” at my role. She never spelt out this herself but my mind overanalyzed the situation and gave me every reason to believe so. This further crushed my self esteem that was hanging by a thin thread. I really don’t know why I had zero confidence in myself right since I was a kid.
I could never muster enough courage to ask my teachers for help of any kind. Asking questions in a classroom in the presence of other students freaked me out to another level. I was terrified of asking a silly question or even a non-relevant one and end up being ridiculed by my classmates. My mind forced myself to learn everything on my own. I don’t remember many instances of asking queries to my friends too. I truly believed that my questions made no sense and I would be able to solve it on my own. I couldn’t stand the thought of being made fun of or looked down upon. I carried this behavior with me to my workplace as well, which is probably the worst thing to do!
I cannot possibly have an “I am supposed to know this, I’ll try to figure out a way anyhow” attitude at a workplace. Everyplace I go, I have an unreasonably high expectation to know everything that I am asked to do. When I was a fresher, I had the tag of being a Chartered Accountant. I feared asking questions will get a “You should be knowing this!” answer in return. I am scared of making mistakes, of any kind. I am petrified of asking help from my colleagues and get a judgy look on their face in return. Asking questions makes me feel like a lowly being who doesn’t deserve any respect.
I don’t know if it’s supposed to be this hard or if I’m wired differently. Asking questions starts from admitting the fact that I don’t have the knowledge of this subject and am willing to learn it. I probably had a lot of traumatizing experiences from childhood owing to my shy nature and low self esteem that made me into a fearful adult. I cannot blame my childhood self as she had little to no control over her life back then. The situation is different now. It’s time to take responsibility of my life. It’s time to accept and be okay with the fact that “not knowing things” is fine and completely normal. It’s time to take help and support from my friends, peers and colleagues to learn more about the my work, life or the world in general. It’s time to gain strength from my vulnerability and forgive myself for not being “perfect” all the time. It’s time to strengthen my self esteem by acknowledging my weaknesses and working on it.
To anyone who is reading, next time someone asks you a query, unless there’s a very strong reason to do otherwise, encourage them, enlighten them and give them strength to do better in life. Acting judgmental, angry or haughty wouldn’t do anyone any good. Let’s build a safe space around us which promotes growth and upliftment.