Asking For Help

The one where I admit something I'm ashamed of and try to overcome it.

5 min. read

I have a hard time asking for help, likely mostly because I’m a dude. You might freak out reading this if you’re familiar with my other work, but let me write a few more words before we start sounding any alarms.

I grew up being told not to ask for help. Even still, every day of my life I’m told not to ask for help. I’ve been told this by people who I care about a lot and admire, and also by complete strangers who should really mind their own Ps and Qs. All of these people (silly gooses) kept telling me this all my life (like, ALL of my life) because I have a penis (not bragging). And believe it or not, as a result of being told hundreds of thousands of times that I shouldn’t ask for help, I have a hard time asking for help. Weird, right?

Ipso facto, being told I’m bad at asking over and over and over because I’m a dude and eventually internalizing that message means I have a hard time asking for help because I’m a dude. So, to clarify, it’s not being a dude that made me a bad asker of help, it was being born in a world where being a dude means being convinced I’m bad at asking for help. Because Society.

The good news: I know this is ridiculous.

The bad news: knowing it’s ridiculous, even with the absolutely confident certainty of knowing that I possess, doesn’t make it much easier to ask for help.

That’s the most wild part. I know this script I’ve been given, part of the Masculinity Play I was unconsentingly cast in at birth, leads only to a dangerous, self-destructive, or — at best — unhappy Grande Finale. I _know _that. But every time I see two roads diverging in a yellow wood, where I can choose to soldier on or ask for help, I’m more likely to take the road less healthy-lifestyle-lived-on by — or however that quote goes.

What’s even worse is that I’m actually kind of ashamed of how bad I am at asking for help, which, in turn, makes it even harder to do, and harder to admit I don’t do. OH THE TANGLED WEBS WE HAVE WOVEN.

This, my dears, is why I do all the things I do, and shoulder most of the burden for many of them by myself. This is also, my dears, why I don’t sleep. And I don’t want to not sleep. I think sleep is just wonderful. I would enjoy doing more of it every day, or maybe even a couple times some days.

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions (because I don’t support making year-impacting decisions while hammered and wearing that woman’s sequined blazer you “borrowed” but have no intention of ever giving back even though I don’t even come close to pulling it off). But I do love resolutions in general. So I’m going to resolve, right meow, to start asking for help, and to give the folks in world the opportunity to not help (which you are totally welcome to not do).

In a former job I did a lot of “Needs Assessments” which is a fun (ha!) way of determining an org or program’s strengths and weaknesses. The resulting report was supposed to enable the staff to adjust they’re approach in order to bolster their strengths and find solutions or support systems to alleviate their weaknesses. I’m going to do a Sam Assessment, and be really Frank (kidding, I’m Sam) about what I’m good at and where I need some minor (major) assistance (FEMA).

These are Things I’m Good At! | But I’m terrible at these related or complementary things, and could really use your help if you’d like to support me in doing the bold things

(Make sense? Let’s give this a shot. In no particular order…)

Performing my show; Speaking/Keynoting about Social Justice-y Stuff | Getting the word out about my show; advertising that I do these things at all; getting video footage of my talks/shows

Simplifying Complicated Ideas into Adorable Graphics | Knowing what complicated ideas people need help simplifying; researching data to support the graphics

Designing and Building Pretty Websites | Programming more complex and secure web applications, including the three big ones I’m currently floundering on

Making Things that Reach Millions of Eyeballs | Having any idea of how that happens; handling the response to those things (positive and negative); fostering those things to help them get into more eyeballs

Writing | Editing; assessing needs of what I should be writing about; connecting with sites/publications to have the stuff I write published elsewhere

Helping People Who Reach Out to Me for Help | Reaching out to folks who might need my help or be able to help me; identifying folks who would be helped by work I’ve already done if I just sent them a link; connecting with people in my field(s) to collaborate or support one another

Giving Away Almost All of My Time & Work for Free | Earning dollars to pay my bills, repair my bike, or “grow my business”; creating things that I can make dollars from; charging dollars for those things

Not Keeping Up With My Email | Keeping up with my email

Eating Hummus | Not eating just hummus