The Power of Asking for Help

May 30, 2011
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Don’t help me. Don’t ask to help me. Don’t even think about helping me.
Perhaps it is innate, being the first-born and always playing the role of caregiver and the one in control. Perhaps it stems more from being paralyzed at a pivotal teen age of craving independence and searching for your own way. Or, perhaps it was a combination of the two; but either way, I have always known that I am one stubborn woman.
If the laundry soap that I swear by is situated on the top shelf in the supermarket, I will simply convince myself I don’t need it. If a friend is piling in my car to find a place to grab a bite to eat, no worry—I’ve got my chair; you can just sit there and watch me put it together and take it apart myself. If you invite me to a party and I can’t get into your house myself, I will seriously contemplate even going at all.
It isn’t that I am trying to prove something to the world, or attempt to display more of my introverted, unsocial  nature; but whatever the case, I think it is probably my most troubling trait I’ve recognized thus far.
The fact that I don’t want your help or anyone else’s, no matter the sacrifice, can be quite damaging. I know wholeheartedly that this notion causes me to miss out on special treats and laundry soap, as well as opportunities with connecting with the people around me. I think that, for the most part, it comes from me not being able to do every single thing that I could ever want or dream of doing; which causes me to force independence out of everything else that I can do. If there is any way, whatsoever, of me doing it—I will. Even if it takes two extra weeks? Yes. Even if it costs more money? Yes. Even if it hurts a little? Yes.
Now, I know that I am not the only one in the world that can speak to this trait, disabled or otherwise. As a society, we are very proud of ourselves and our own capabilities and prefer to show them off whenever possible, again even to a fault.
However, this week I learned that asking for help doesn’t mean that I can’t do everything; it actually means something better. It means that I care enough to try to do everything, regardless by my own means or someone else’s–and what matters most in any situation is that willingness to try.
When you realize that your passion and dream mean more to you than denying the help from others, you find the strength to seek it. My passion is competitive swimming and I more than realize that this athletic chance may be the last that I ever have, so I must do it right. I spend almost as much time handling the logistics of my competition as I do actually competing. And because of this, I realized this week that I had one very slight opportunity to be the most amazing underdog that I have ever dreamed, but only if I play it out with just the exact resources and wisdom.
Which is exactly the moment where I picked up the phone and called the single best resource I could ever come up with in this entire universe—actually, I just lied. It took me about a week and a half of rather convincing conversations to both sides of the teeter-totter to actually call him.
In the fashion that tends to suit me most, I blurted something about passion and trying and needing to do everything that I could for this dream. The whole conversation to start was sort of a blur from all of the anxiety and lack of comfort that I have created by having zero practice at this sort of interaction. Eventually, however, I got to the part about asking for his help.
Breathe. Whoa, it just came out—without puking barbed wire or exploding brainstems. Just like that, I asked for help.
And what did he say?
He spoke with a tone that flowed through my heart and head in one magnificent outstretched arm sort of a manner. Of course he would help.
All in all, this seemingly unremarkable interaction created quite a powerful lesson for me. I think I may even try it again someday…

Author: Ryan McLean

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