The other day my daughter came to me and asked me for help with her math.
I’ve been homeschooling her for almost two years, and she does her math with an online program and often doesn’t ask for help because she really doesn’t need much of it.
Ever since I took her out of school and have allowed her to learn and grow at her own pace, she’s been excelling at almost everything she tries, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
But a few minutes after asking for help, and me pointing out the things she apparently already knew, she freaked out and snatched the laptop away from me and yelled:
“I don’t want your help, I’ll just do it myself!”
It was pretty confusing, being that she had come to ask for my help in the first place and then went running off when I tried to help her, but luckily we had a family therapy appointment later that day and got to the bottom of her reaction.
Long story short, she didn’t want to ask for my help, because she didn’t want me to think that she couldn’t do it on her own.
“I didn’t want you to think I was stupid,” she said through her tears, and oh yeah, I started crying, too.
I remember the last time I had to ask for a lot of help and how it made me feel.
It was about a year ago when I had to throw up the white flag and ask my parents if I could move in with them because I couldn’t handle all my bills on my own.
I needed help. Lots of help.
Asking my parents for that help is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, because, just like my daughter felt with her homework, I didn’t want to admit to my parents that I couldn’t do things on my own.
I didn’t want them, or anyone else, to think I was stupid for not being able to balance working, homeschooling, and my debt and finances all at once.
Through angry tears, I asked, and I got exactly what I needed.
So why is it so hard to ask for help when we need it?
Asking for help exposes our vulnerabilities.
There’s no way around it, when we ask for help we are showing the world a chink in our armor.
We are showing people that this is where we are lacking or in need, and it’s not an easy thing to do when we want to appear to the world that we’re strong and capable.
Doing things on our own, even when we are struggling hard through things, does sometimes feel like winning, but at what price if you are setting yourself up for failure in the end?
We can still be strong and capable people and still ask for help.
It doesn’t make us weak, it doesn’t make us losers — it makes us human.
Everyone needs help sometimes, whether it be a huge favor like moving in with family to something small like helping with math or opening a jam jar.
If I’ve learned anything from asking for so much help over the last year it’s this:
Asking for help takes strength.
To ask for help, you have to let go of the idea that it makes you weak.
You have to embrace your vulnerabilities and admit that there are things in this world you can’t do alone.
That isn’t a weakness, to ask for help.
That’s strength, and we all have it inside of us.
This is what I explained to my daughter during therapy, and it’s the same thing I’d tell a thirteen-year-old or a thirty-year-old:
The people who love you in this world are here to help you no matter what.
We aren’t going to think you’re stupid or a loser for asking for help.
That’s what we’re here for, everyone on this Earth.
To live together on this crazy, spinning planet and to help each other and love each other.
Help is there to be given.
Don’t be afraid to ask for it.