Are you going to take or wait?

I think that my innate desire to please others harms myself and doesn’t protect anyone else. How about you?

I sit here now, slightly dreary, in the Sydney airport as the sun rises after a 14 hour flight from San Francisco. We flew on Qantas airlines, which we have now managed to do a number of times and I really like the airline. The long flight really isn’t bad either – watched a movie and ate dinner, slept for 8 hours and napped for another hour, watched another movie and ate breakfast and then disembarked.

In the middle of the night Qantas offers a number of amenities. The thing is – no one tells you about them. In the very back of the coach cabin, sometime after dinner is served, they open up some shelving filled with granola bars, Tim Tam’s (cookies), toothbrushes and toothpaste, and some eye masks. They are clearly there for the taking, but it has for some reason struck me as odd and I continually feel a little guilty for taking anything. There is also a hidden water spigot (it isn’t that hidden, it’s at a place in the wall) that I assume is for us to fill water bottles, but again, you just have to go for it. There are no signs or anything that tells you that it is for guests to stay hydrated. And throughout the evening, the flight attendants bring by various snacks. Since most people are sleeping, they do not actually offer anything. They just walk down the aisles. If you want anything I assume that you have to be forceful about flagging them down (I haven’t done this, hence the assumption – not just because I am shy, but because I haven’t wanted anything to eat in the middle of the night).

I suspect that there are other things available if one were to politely ask for them. On this last flight, we were given menus with food options. There were many alcoholic beverage options, but we were specifically offered a glass of wine with dinner. If one wanted something else, you would have to ask for it specifically. With desert, we were offered coffee or tea, but hot chocolate was on the menu and one could have asked for it.

I guess why it feels different to me is that the flight attendant didn’t say – what would you like to drink? Rather, the question was, do you want a glass of wine – yes or no. I suspect that this streamlines the process by asking it this way? I’m not sure, but for my ridiculous self, it thus feels imposing if I were to want something else.

This highlights for me just how poor I am at asking for things. I don’t know why. I think it is rooted in a desire to please.

But this particular situation points out just how ridiculous this can be. Sure there are passengers that can just get obnoxious, but for the most part, I think the flight attendants would be happy to bring me what I want.

It makes me think about where else in my life I am not assertive about asking for what it is that I want out of life. Opportunities are not just going to be handed for me, I have to put myself out there to ask for them, or, just like the granola bars at the back of the plane, to just take what I want out of life.

Is this a tendency that you have as well? Are you actually protecting anyone by not taking what you want in life, or is it actually harming those around you? Perhaps most importantly yourself.

Do you put off training to take care of family? Is that really necessary? Do you tell your spouse about your goals for races, or are you too reserved to think that the family should take a trip just for you to do a race? When making a decision about where to go to dinner with a spouse or a friend, do you both try to figure out what the other wants and to have them make the decision rather than assert where you actually want to go?

And the biggest question of all: does a desire to please hold you back from getting what you want?

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