It’s a curious thing, asking for help. People want to be independent, but they also want things to be easy. Doing things for yourself categorizes your work as an achievement. It makes you feel accomplished. Getting help lessens the load. It makes you feel less alone and connected. Each option gives you a sense of value and worth, albeit from different means.
The stubbornly strong-willed have trouble being vulnerable enough to put their progress in someone else’s hands. Overtly asking for help means they have to admit they can’t do it by themselves. They don’t mind hitting rock bottom because it’s just another exploration, just another puzzle to figure out. They welcome the challenge and the work. Time and ease is irrelevant. If the ship goes down, the captain can swim.
There is a comfort in not letting people know you have trouble with something. The internet allows everyone to keep quiet and seek anonymous help from the shadows. When information is so readily available, the easiest option is to do your own research. In reaching out to a thing rather than a being, you risk nothing. Google’s all the help you need.
The cloak of self-sufficiency is an invisible one, disguised as an invincible one.
On the other hand, there are those, hat in hand, literally begging to be helped.
photo credit: fairfaxcounty.gov
Not long ago, I was having a bad day and I saw a homeless person at an intersection, and I thought, quite callously, “Everyone has signs. Most of us just choose not to hold it up for the world to see.” I’ve also bold-faced lied when asked if I could spare some change as I scurried past with a five-dollar coffee and my change purse clanging with every step. I hate being guilted into actions, so I create a scenario in my head that someone else can help them or that they chose this lifestyle. As if opportunity and circumstance had nothing to do with it.
There’s a bravery in putting yourself out there and relying on others. To show everyone around that things got messed up and you don’t know what to do. To expose yourself and say the words “I need help” is a gutsy deed, and it makes a potential hero out of anyone you’re addressing.
Letting someone else win is a noble effort. It means you’re willing to make room at the top.
I grew up solidly in the “self-reliant” camp, but the more I think about it and the more I embrace this idea of cooperation, the more I find I’m a bit hypocritical. Asking someone for help allows them to be helpful. It gives them purpose. Not asking for help gives you purpose.
But there’s more than enough work to give everyone purpose.
Maybe if more people on the right moved left and more people on the left moved right we’d carve out a happier medium in the middle. Plenty of space can be found in the glorious in-between.