Asking for Help

I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at asking for help. I like to do most things on my own and be independent. It’s hard for me to admit that I need help. But I’m trying. I’m working on it.

I’m also the kind of person that I ask for help as a last resort. I feel that people look down on me when I have to ask for help. I know that’s not true, but that’s a lie that my brain tells me.

I have to remind myself that I’m not capable of doing everything on my own. A good quote I’ve heard while teaching is, “You can do ANYTHING, but you can’t do EVERYTHING.” It took me a bit to realize how true that actually is. There’s a lot you (or I) are capable of. However, we’re not superheroes or even superhuman. While you can do a lot, you can’t do it all. It’s a difficult lesson for me. I want to do it all. And I get on myself when I can’t. But it’s so important that you treat yourself with kindness. You will fail. You’re human. You’re not meant to do it all. It’s okay. I’m not trying to let you down or make you feel bad. Trust me. This is and has been an incredibly difficult lesson for me to learn too. So I promise it will be okay if you ask for help. Nobody will think badly of you. You’re just showing your humanness.

Another thing about asking for help is that you can’t do it at the very end of your rope. Nobody can help you if there’s no rope to pull you with. If you’re at the end of your rope, then you have nothing left. You need to be able to ask for help while there’s still time to save you. For example, if you have a phone, it takes a lot more time, effort, and energy for a phone to charge if it’s all the way dead. However, if you plug it in before it dies fully, then it’s going to take a lot less of the same energy to replenish the charge. You are very similar in that sense. Coming back from nothing left takes a lot more time and effort. So if you ask for help at the end of your rope, expect that it’s going to take longer to get back to a spot where you can be operational. Asking for help sooner rather than later gives you more energy quicker.

Even though asking for help may utilize a spoon or two, it will free up your spoons, thoughts, and worries for other things. People aren’t looking down on you. In fact, if you have people who care about you, then they probably want to help. There have been a number of times my partner has willingly taken me up on being helped. A couple of weeks ago, I could hardly find the energy to get my weekly post done, let alone something else I needed to do. My partner willingly jumped in and helped me with the other task so that I could finish this. Having that weight off my back meant I could focus on the post I was writing and finish it appropriately. It actually helped me feel better because then I could provide insight to the other task. And also, real people who love you will sometimes help without you asking them to.

It doesn’t make you weak to ask for help. On the contrary, it shows that you have the strength to recognize when you can’t do it all. Let me give an example. Last week, I was working on an activity with my students. We did part of the activity together, and they had to do the last part on their own. This is typically how I run my class. I had one student in this particular class who chose not to participate while I was doing the part we did collectively. Later on, he complained that I never gave him a paper. While I said, “You never asked for one,” what I actually meant was, “You gave me no indication you were going to do work today.” (this is a common occurrence with this particular student.) I also gave him the reading because I’m not completely heartless. As I walked around to help other students, I heard him talk to himself and ask how to do this assignment. When I came back around, I told him I could help if he wanted me to. He said to me, “Isn’t that asking for help?” I told him it was, and he told me no thanks.

This example not only legitimately happened, but it also made me realize that the student looked ignorant for rejecting my help. I am the expert in the subject matter in my room. I have always told my students (and this is my homework policy as well) that it’s better to ask me for help in class than to try to find the answers on their own outside of class. And still I have students who tell me to my face that they don’t like asking for help.

I also realize that I can’t expect my students to ask for help if I’m not capable of asking for help myself. I do my best to make sure I only enforce expectations on my students that I myself can follow. I’ve said before that I don’t expect to completely change all of my students. If I can be an example to them, maybe then I can reach them.

I know my thoughts are a little jumbled today, and I also know there’s no easy answer to how to fix this. It’s a lot of conscious effort to ask for help. But I know it benefits me. So I’m trying to work on it more. It’s work and effort, but I’m trying. I’m definitely not great at it by any means. This is where I am. I see a need, and I am working to fix it or at least improve it.

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