NO ONE AROUND HERE EVER THINKS ABOUT WHAT I NEED OR WANT!
Please, for the love of Target, tell me I am not the only one who has yelled this after a particularly difficult day. Bonus points if you also do this while angrily throwing dirty dishes in the sink.
But the thing is, I rarely ask for help and I definitely don’t ask for specific, pointed things that I need. Just the word “needy” conjures memories of high school and college boyfriends who string you along and act like you’re a crazy person for needing a commitment, a Valentine’s Day present, or simply a text back. This may be where it all starts for us—where being “needy” gets a bad rap. We want to be perceived as independent and capable and so we slough off any notion of needing help.
There are two sides to this issue. The first is that we are a generation that was raised to believe we can do ANYTHING and who are also raising our girls to believe the same. And that is the wholehearted truth. Except, you can’t do EVERYTHING and that’s a big distinction. If you’re going to give a killer work presentation then someone else has to make dinner.
The other side of the coin is that I think many of us feel that if we ask for help, it somehow diminishes the work we have done. Not doing it all on your own doesn’t equate to not having done it at all. Show me an Oscar speech where the recipient says, “No one to thank. Ruled the world all on my own.” You can’t because it just doesn’t work that way. People who makes things happen do so because they have support. And further, no matter the work you do, it matters and it’s worthy of that support–motherhood, careers, marriages, friendships–they all require work and they cannot be sustained alone.
Which brings me to my point—people love helping. You are not a burden. Let me say that again—YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN. Somewhere along the way to womanhood, we get the message that we are inconveniencing anyone that we ask to help us. Maybe it’s the boyfriend I mentioned earlier or the parents who are too tired to help with homework or that friend who blew you off one time. Even if it’s the smallest favor, we justify why we need it and apologize for that need. We are convinced we are admitting failure or showing weakness.
That is a myth. No one is lying in bed at night, lamenting how needy you are. Well, no one except you.
This whole concept occurred to me when I was reflecting on launching this site. To start this website, I asked an old college friend for IT advice. I asked my family for input on what I had written and how it was presented. I asked friends for head shots. I asked my husband for time and space to write. I asked my colleagues to make my copies so I could go home instead. And get this—not one person rolled their eyes, muttered under their breath or seemed resentful. Because, these people are my people. They want to see me happy and fulfilled and stress free. That means the people around you are willing to give you twenty minutes alone with a bottle of wine, the day off, or whatever else you need to be the best version of you. If it matters to you, it matters to the people who love you. You just have to ask.
You do not enter into relationships or friendships because you like to operate freely and independently of all other humans. We are not wired for that. I was recently listening to this podcast and Sebastian Junger discussing the concept of “tribes” and how basically, we all do better when we are relying on one another. It feels good to help and it feels good to be helped. There is not a prize for being “the one who goes it alone”.
I think its important that we move away from the idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness or that it places a burden on the one being asked. Consider all the times you have been happy to help one of your people–and allow yourself to believe that they feel happy to help you, too. Allow your prize to instead be “the one who got it done” and embrace your tribe–guilt free.