I never loiter anymore. It used to be one of my favourite past times. I don’t think I knew it at the time. I simply liked hanging out with my friends. It didn’t really matter where we are. I used to loiter on the front porch with friends in Brooklyn. I did it at parks in Hamilton. I would always hang out with friends outside the gym at university. This could go on for hours and oftentimes, it did.
I recall one time an acquaintance of mine asked if we had nothing better to do because we were just standing around “Wasting time.” I didn’t see it that way. Hanging out with friends, making jokes, talking about whatever, was not a waste of time in my opinion.
I miss it. Nowadays, all my friends are busy. Even though some of us live close to each other we see each other less and less. There are times we see each other at the gym but those are instances when we go to workout or play basketball. Since we are all working and have other commitments and responsibilities, we don’t just run into each other near the cafeteria and hang out for a few hours. We have to make time now.
It’s not always easy to make the time. Luckily, the past few days I was able to hang out with my two close friends individually. I had amazing conversations with both of them. I’m glad we were able to make time to talk. At the end of the one conversation my friend said something like “We rarely get human interaction anymore.” It’s true for us because we have a Whatsapp chat and message each other everyday.
The great thing about it is, we get to talk a bit and I believe we all push each other to be better. On the other hand, we don’t always get the opportunity to have more intimate conversations. I think that’s why I miss loitering. When I would hang out with friends in front of the house it was easy to just talk about everything and we would talk about our goals and dreams. This blog has helped me get my conversations to that point again. I think it has something to do with the blog. I was discussing this with my friend and I told him because I am vulnerable when I write these posts I think I am growing more comfortable being vulnerable and asking deeper questions.
Yesterday, I sat down to write a blog but I remembered something that I’ve been meaning to read. On Tim Ferris’ podcast he was interviewing Ricardo Semler, author of the 7 Day Weekend. Semler mentioned a parable written by Franz Kakfa, Before The Law. It’s a quick read yet incredibly profound. Basically, there is a man that wants to walk through a door. He asks the gatekeeper permission to enter. The gatekeeper says he can’t enter at the moment but he will be able to at some point. Then he moves over and the man peeks his head in. That’s when the gatekeeper says “If it tempts you so much, try it in spite of my prohibition. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the most lowly gatekeeper.” Then he goes on to mention more powerful gatekeepers are guarding other doors. The man is too afraid to go in and simply waits. He waits for years, and with his dying breath he asks how come nobody else has come by to walk through the door. The gatekeeper says this door was here for you but since you are going to die I’m going to shut it now.
“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”
I thought about this piece by Kafka. How many of us are unwilling to walk through doors because we are afraid? I think at times I am the man waiting for permission to walk through the door, when I simply need to grow the courage to walk through it. Grace Murray Hopper, U.S. Naval Officer, said, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”
Now I don’t mean go ahead and cheat on your girl, I don’t think you can get forgiveness for that. I think this idea goes with my last blog post, about getting out of your comfort zone. There are many doors that are available to all of us and we simply don’t walk through them because we are afraid of what is on the other side. I know that is the case for me. I think about conversations I ought to have but I don’t even bother because I’m afraid of the outcome. I suppress the idea of doing it because I think I’m not ready.
Why aren’t I ready? What am I waiting for?
My previous supervisor has hired many people and he said I was the best hire he ever made. I’m not saying this to brag but at times I wonder why he said it. Was everyone else that bad? Am I really that good? I don’t think so. I know I could be much better. The CEO of Bazinga really believes in me. I know he does. He tells me every chance he gets and he is too genuine to simply say something like that. There are times where I wonder why he thinks that way. Again, I’m not saying this stuff to brag. I’m surprised that people feel this way about me. I think I’m a confident person but I don’t really know that I am. Which makes me think that maybe I’m not as confident as I think I am.
The other night I went to watch Game 5 of the Raptors playoff series. It was my first time watching the playoffs in Toronto. The atmosphere was crazy. We arrived a bit late and when we got to our seats the shirt giveaways weren’t on our seats. There was a really nice guy behind us that said we could get shirts if we went to Customer Service. Automatically, I said to myself I wouldn’t do it. I don’t know if it was fear or if it was a lack of confidence to go to someone behind a desk to ask her for a shirt that we were owed but I didn’t want to deal with the situation. My friend on the other hand had no problem with it. He wasn’t even fazed by the idea of doing it and sure enough, after the game we went to Customer Service and he was able to get all 4 of us our shirts.
Yesterday, I discussed where he was able to gain that confidence. We didn’t discuss the situation with the shirts specifically; we were discussing the confidence to ask for a raise. He mentioned how a few years ago he felt the same way I feel now. He was surprised to hear how clients and some senior people in his company thought of him and what they would say about the work he did.
I hear positive things about my work all the time but I still haven’t turned that corner. I think it’s a big step in a person’s life to realize the potential we have that others already see. I think that’s why I was captivated by Kafka’s essay. I know there are many doors available to me, and I need to have the confidence to walk through them.
My advice here is the same one that I will try to follow, be more confident. It’s easier said than done. I think we can all work on it together. Dr. Philip Zimbardo, leading psychologist at the Heroic Imagination Project said something about people that perform extraordinary heroic acts. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, heroism doesn’t just happen in the moment because the hero has been working towards that moment by doing small, good deeds throughout their entire life. That’s why in that dire moment they are able to act.
I mentioned earlier that I am becoming more comfortable with being vulnerable because of this blog. The blog was a small step for me. Now, it’s easier for me to be out of my comfort zone and feel vulnerable. I think Dr. Zimbardo makes this point when he says small acts of kindness will lead the hero to act during the moment they are needed most. Basically, they’ve been practicing for this their entire lives.
I’m not sure of this yet but I think confidence is a very similar character trait. If I had the confidence to be able to walk up to the Customer Service counter and ask for the T-Shirts then I know it would have boosted my confidence further. It isn’t a major scenario. It’s not a high stakes situation. It would have been a small step towards becoming more confident. My advice is taking that small step to become more confident. With each small step I believe I will grow more confident and so will you. I wasn’t able to take capitalize on the opportunity before because I wasn’t ready. Next time, I will be.