ask for what you want

Every time I decide to write about my “Rules to Live By,” this is where I get stuck. It’s a simple enough piece of advice, and yet I’ve struggled with it throughout much of my life.

The first time I heard this nugget of wisdom articulated this way, I’d just begun working as an apprentice at a theater company. The job began as most do, with a formal sit-down that included going through an employee handbook and an overview of the way the theater worked, followed by a tour of the space.

me and my fellow theater apprentices, gearing up for preproduction, December 2015

What made this experience different though was the outlining of best practices. The apprenticeship turned out to be a gauntlet run, a trial by fire. It was a job padded with the perks of education. Sure, I was scrubbing toilets, but I was also taking classes in acting and playwriting and directing. And one of the cornerstones of the experience became this piece of advice: ask for what you want.

Want the tech director to lead a class in Jujutsu? Ask.

Want the stage manager to teach you how to do aerial silks? Ask.

Want that internship with the Artistic Director? Ask.

Want a few days off to drive to New York and see a Broadway show? Ask.

After all, the worst someone can say is “no.” And as much as it terrifies all of us, “no” isn’t really all that bad.