Confessions: Sometimes I Have to Ask for Help

Dear Theresa,

You already know that I am a workaholic, but can you imagine that I am a bit of a perfectionist as well? I don’t understand the idea of doing something just because I have to do… and half-assing my way until it’s done. This is probably why I got good grades at school and my bosses are happy with me. It is also one of the most frustrating things when people around me don’t share my desire to do things well (because if you’re going to give it 60% why not 80 or 90%). However, doing things well (or not) is not the reason for today’s post. Today I want to talk to you about how I ask for help when I get in over my head because I don’t want to do things halfway. This is something I am still learning and it is really hard for me because most of the time I am happy to work my way through things myself, and suck it up when the going gets tough.

I do realise that I am extremely lucky because I come from a family background that is very supportive and currently find myself in a job where I can count on those around me if I need something. All this aside, for whatever reason, it is still really hard for me to ask for emotional/financial/etc. support. I like to think I’m ‘getting better’ at it, but I think I am just starting to realise that I cannot always go it alone and get the results that I want to get. This is reflected in several aspects of my life:

 

 When your day starts like this you may have to ask for help...

When your day starts like this you may have to ask for help...

When I don’t know how to do something: Even though I come from a family of extremely strong women and I have never thought I couldn’t do something just because of who I am or where I come from, I am also very aware of what I am capable of doing with the (formal and informal) education I have received. I am a big proponent of googling things or learning things slowly over time—such as with the blog—but sometimes it is important that I don’t have the answers to everything, and I don’t need to have them all. I have surrounded myself with a unique group of friends and acquaintances who can help me solve almost any problem, if I just ask. Now, it isn’t always easy to ask for help, but when you do sometimes you learn more than you could ever hope to alone, while accomplishing to do a job well done.

Pro-tip: Recognise what your personal strengths and weaknesses are. Once you know what you are good at, don’t be shy about sharing with people around you. That way, when you truly need help with something, you have already shown people around you that if they help you, it will not go unnoticed—remember try not to take more than you give back.

 

When I don’t have enough time to do something well: As a workaholic, sometimes I sign myself up for more things than I can actually hope to accomplish. Luckily, I have started estimating my capacities to get stuff done and am getting better at calculating relatively well what I am able to do in a given about of time. However, there are still days/projects when I think I will be able to do or be motivated to do so much more than what I manage to do in a day. Like I mentioned before, if you create an environment around you where people know you are good on your word, they will be pretty willing to lend you a hand or give you an extension on finishing something (although, on occasion, this might be more of a stretch and you might want to get help).

Pro-tip: Make sure you pay attention—if you realise too late, you won’t be able to viably ask for help. Most people are willing to help you out as long they don’t feel too rushed or pressured themselves while doing so. Be respectful, both to yourself and to others, and plan enough ahead that you don’t have to ask for help the day before a project is due/an event/etc.

 

When I don’t have enough money to be comfortable: This one was really hard for me because I learned money responsibility from a very young age, however, for a couple of months this past year I was working a lot without seeing the financial stability I was hoping for when I needed it most (moving into my own flat and facing all costs alone). I didn’t want to ask anyone for help even though I know my parents will always do the best they can to support me. When I finally asked for a small amount of money each month, my mom laughed at me because I was so stressed about asking for it. In the end, almost as soon as my money stress disappeared I was offered a promotion (and a subsequent raise) at work and I can now live without this stress in my life because I am more financially stable.

Pro-tip: Know what you can ask for and don’t tie yourself into knots when people who care about you are willing to help you out during a tough time. At the end of the day, something that could make a big difference to you, doesn’t necessarily have to be a big strain on those around you. If it is, try to figure the situation out with people who care about you—the world is a lot less scary when you figure out what you need with people you love.

 

 Sometimes breakfast with my family is just what I need.

Sometimes breakfast with my family is just what I need.

When I just need a little bit of emotional support: Is it bizarre that sometimes I just want to hang out at home with my mom and have a glass of wine or watch a movie with a good friend? That I want to have a beer and a talk at a local bar instead of going out? I would say that both Dani and I have started paying more attention to the need we have around a little bit of emotional support every once in awhile. The form this takes is each of us deciding how to take care of ourselves. For me, that can include asking people to do quiet things that help me reflect on where I am and what I want to do, but it also includes asking my dad to make me lunch or my brother to order food in when I cannot face cooking.

Pro-tip: Get to know when you will need emotional support and build in time for yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you and ask them to do something quiet with you. In all probability, they are probably living a life that is just as crazy as yours and will be happy to spend some one-on-one time thinking about life or just hanging out.  

 

When do you ask for help? Or are you like (old) me and wanting to avoid this as much as possible?

Sincerely,
Claudia