Covering: I (don't) got this

A picture of a woman with a red cape wearing a suit with her arms crossed. The picture reads Covering: I (don't) got this.

Ra-chel! Ra-chel! Ra-chel! The group is chanting over and over, as I hesitantly climb the ladder up the tree. Meanwhile, my husband is on the ground saying, "Rachel, don't do it, get down". I get to the top and carefully turn around with the snatch block and large wooden dowel rod in hand. The song of my choice is playing, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor. I think to myself, "I got this". Also, I think to myself, I need to time my epic ride down this zipline in my friend's backyard at my own birthday party while all my closest friends and coworkers cheer me on. 

I put the snatch block over the rope line and stick the dowel rod through the hole and ready myself for what will assuredly be an amazing ride. The song starts, with the epic guitar and drums at the beginning "bum, bump-bump-bump, bump-bump-bump, bump-bump- buuummmp". SPLAT!!! (That SPLAT part is where I hit the ground because I could not manage to hold on). 

Picture of a woman zip-lining with a helmet and harness. (This picture is completely non-representative of the type of zip-lining I was doing.)

So it turns out, "I don't got this". While this funny story is not exactly what I am talking about when I write about covering "I got this", there was certainly some overconfidence that I was displaying externally, even though I knew that my husband was probably right. But I forged ahead anyway. Maybe it was the peer pressure, maybe something else entirely.  

After this "epic" ride down the homemade zip line went bad, I wound up in the hospital for 11 days with a slew of injuries. But we will save those details for another day. What I want to focus on today are the months I spent at home, by myself struggling. Although a few times I had my in-laws take me to appointments, and I certainly asked my husband for help with daily tasks, I forged forward with the "I got this attitude". 

Upon reflection, the reality was that I was extremely depressed and lonely living isolated in my bedroom, with no visitors, and whatever frozen meal my husband left for me in the mini-fridge to heat in the microwave. I could not put pants on by myself, let alone socks. I required adult supervision to take a shower. It was a sad scene to watch me go up and down the stairs with the one arm and one leg crab walk. I was determined to figure it all out on my own. While it is normal for humans to desire independence, no one put an expectation on me that I do all the things on my own, that was my own doing. While I am sure there are times in my life when there are expectations from others, I think that we humans often put too much on our own plates and drive our own self-esteem and self-worth down when we can't do those things. 

A woman handing from a ledge reaching her hand up for help. The picture reads why is asking for help so hard?

So why is asking for help so hard? Is it because we fear letting someone else down? Is it because we are embarrassed to let others know we can't do it on our own? Is it because we don't want to make ourselves vulnerable? Is it because you cannot surrender control to someone else? Is it because we don't want to be perceived as incompetent or needy? It could be any or all of these things for you. For me, it depends a little on the situation, but I can certainly relate to all these statements.

How do we get good at asking for help then? addresses this question by asking what you can gain by asking for help. They break it down into three key points. 
  1. You gain the ability to move forward. When I think about a recent issue I had and I just kept ruminating on the issue, when I opened up and talked about it with friends, I found I was able to move on. Even though I did not specifically ask for help, just by having the conversation, I was able to get help without asking directly for help, and it helped immensely to be able to move on past the topic.
  2. You gain the opportunity to collaborate. When I think about a recent series of TechTalks that I have done with a coworker of mine, we would not have had the opportunity to collaborate and create something amazing for the community had she not asked me to help review the first PowerPoint. Collaboration builds relationships and almost always results in a better end product.
  3. You gain the opportunity to learn. When I think about those moments when I learn something unexpected, I can reflect that there was a moment of asking or seeking help, even if it was a simple internet search. When you seek knowledge and have a growth mindset, your relationships both personal and professional will grow. 
For me, I have to work hard to mentalize and think about my own feelings and how others perceive me. Although I tend to not care or be aware of what people think about me, when I do think and mentalize, I tend to have a pessimistic view and assume that others have a low view of me just as I have low self-worth. While there are plenty of things that I am not afraid to ask for, the things that are hard to ask for help are the ones that I need to put more focus on. I need to put my focus inward to understand why I don't want to ask for help. I need to put more focus to be more purposeful in asking for help. 

A picture of a yellow coffee cup, reading glasses, and a pink post-it note that reads ask for help.

I think most humans have the innate desire to help others. But, when someone is asking for help, remember that their lived experience is different than your own. You may not know what else is going on in someone's life. Make sure that you don't berate the person for asking for help or make comments that might make the person feel worthless or dumb or inadequate. I go back to my many years as a professional technical trainer and remind myself that there is no such thing as a dumb question. 

Another tip is to create an "inventory" of your support system. In other words, who can you ask for help, and which types of help can they offer. But don't limit your support system to the specific skills or types of help you perceive another person can provide. Again remember, you don't know the other person's lived experience with everything. The person may know someone else who can help. A great way to do this is to make your ask for help conversational instead of transactional.

I don't claim to be an expert in this area and still have a lot of my own work to do to ask for help and quit running my life with the "I got this attitude". But I hope this is helpful for you if you have found yourself struggling to ask for help. 

P.s. Don't create a homemade zip-line and invite all your friends over to watch you fall off the zip-line. :)


Popular Posts