I am really sh*t at asking for help. I am fiercely independent and hate when I’m unable to do something on my own.
This leads to me using garden scissors to hammer nails into my new IKEA drawers, because I don’t have a hammer and it was Sunday and I was unwilling/incapable/too proud to simply ask my colleague and neighbour whether he has one I could borrow.
I’m also impatient which doesn’t make things any easier, because asking for help usually also means waiting for the other person to 1) say yes and 2) take action, which could take longer than simply attempting it by myself.
And lastly, I have very high expectations of myself and asking for help means admitting defeat, plus it means I then need to rely on some other people to help me get to my goal, which may look different to my originally chosen path. (I bet you didn’t expect such inflexibility from me…)
Is that a bad thing? Yes. Because doing everything by myself is pretty damn exhausting.
Sure, I can feel flattered when people tell me they think I’m superwoman because I do ALL this stuff (‘stuff’ being work and life and travel and triathlon and occasionally whipping up a batch of incredible chocolate chip cookies). But quite frankly it is a lot of work and I could make my life so much easier if I just got over myself and simply took people up on their offers for help.
This year has been incredible and I feel proud of the things I have achieved in my professional life. I got to travel A LOT, went to events, gave talks and connected with a large number of people. I sometimes wonder how much more I could have made happen, though, if I simply asked for a bit of help.
And why don’t I just do it? To be honest, I don’t quite know. Probably because of my impatience and perfectionism. It’s not that I want to have the glory of success all to myself. I don’t need that, I’m happy to share. I simply care a lot about the outcomes of my projects and spreading the load means in some ways increasing the risk.
Not a scalable concept, though, especially if I continue to make things dependent on me. Also not so good for my sanity to put all the pressure on myself and myself alone.
I think this year has also shown me that I seem to have this need to prove to myself (and my environment) that I can do things that I didn’t need to prove in the first place.
If I want to continue doing what I love doing, I really need to get my act together, push my pride aside and put my hand up when I need someone else’s help. I’m usually quick to offer my help to others, but asking for it (especially if someone doesn’t offer first) is really hard for me because I hate inconveniencing people and what I struggle even more with is disappointing people. Asking for help and admitting defeat could annoy others.
My plan is to get over these worries and make 2018 a bit easier for me by just accepting a helping hand when it is offered. Maybe I’ll even manage not to feel embarrassed or ashamed about it.
It’s not like people aren’t willing to help. My parents are the best example. Admittedly they are completely biased, but putting that aside, they are always ready to help me and they genuinely don’t mind doing things for me. And I feel like I’m being a burden, even though by now I should know that they actually like helping me.
My brother is super helpful as well. He just lives too far away, but he already offered to help me with aforementioned IKEA drawers (which I did in fact screw up, so now he needs to come and save me and my drawers so I can actually use them). I will gladly take him up on it even if that means waiting another 10 days with the drawers unfinished in my home office (impatience and perfectionism don’t like that…)
And there are plenty of friends who offer their help, so while I’m not a person who has New Years resolutions, I do want to start this asking for help thing. Gives my ego a bit of a reality check every now and then. It will also stop me from getting burnout. I don’t think the risk is too high but at the same time I had moments this year when I didn’t quite know how to keep going at the same speed but felt the need to continue charging ahead. And then everything else becomes too much.
A good friend of mine reminded me that given that I like helping people and I don’t feel burdened by people asking for help, wouldn’t it then make sense that when people offer their help, it’s also not a burden for them?
That made a lot of sense to me and I will try to remember her wise words when I’m reluctant to let someone help me.
And if you’re the someone who is offering their help, you may just need to be a little patient with me until it gets through to me that you genuinely just want to help.
Those who do and have done in the past: THANK YOU! I greatly appreciate it,