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Asking For Help

For the first decade and half of my life, I had a complex and a half about asking for help. Luckily, I wised up at sixteen and realized that I couldn’t handle SAT prep by myself, so I bit the bullet and asked one of my teachers to tutor me. It goes a little deeper than that, though. We’re raised to be independent (which is mostly a good thing, in fair measure) and to think that we should accomplish everything on our own. Unfortunately, good intentions often lead to gross misconceptions, and we often find ourselves hesitating to ask for help when we need it the most. We convince ourselves that we can handle whatever it is that’s ailing us, that bringing someone else into it would only complicate matters. Sometimes this is accurate, but the truth is that you’re not going to get through life without asking for help every now and then. It’s a skill, just like being a smooth talker or having the ability to whistle, and the sooner you cultivate it, the better.

The number one obstacle I’ve found most people encounter when asking for help is pride (it’s one of the seven deadly sins for a reason). We equate receiving assistance with weakness, and because we’re naturally proud, we can’t handle it. Pride, I’ve found, is only useful in very rare situations, and is a cheap, superficial form of what should be confidence. Having none of it has only made my life easier–I’ve been able to open up more and have fun without worrying so much. Swallowing it can be tough, but it’ll be easier in the end when you accept that no one is impervious to ever needing anything. Often, the initial request is the hardest part–once someone agrees to lend a hand, the rest falls into place pretty quickly. Pushing past pride, no matter how painful it may seem, is one of the best things you can do to help yourself.

A common mentality that I’ve come across in my travels is that asking for help will bother people. It’s true that being incessantly prodded for menial tasks can get old fast, but if you really need help with something, a true ally won’t think any less of you for it. Whenever one of my friends has consulted me about something, I’ve felt more flattered than inconvenienced.  Showing such vulnerability is a sign of trust, and it made me feel special to be allowed the privilege of helping them. That’s just my experience, of course, but I’ve found that most people enjoy feeling important.

You deserve to be able to ask for help. If for no one else, do it for yourself–you shouldn’t always be shouldering everything alone. You’re worth easing up on every now and then.

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