For as long as I can remember I have been reluctant to ask for help. Not because I am stubborn (although at times I’ve been accused), but more so because growing up I learned to fly under the radar and not cause trouble. Growing up in a strained family environment I learned at a young age that asking for help could be perceived as causing trouble depending on the mood. Being needy or requesting support made me feel vulnerable. Relying on myself and my abilities made me the seemingly dependable one. The Caretaker. The girl who could handle all and not bother others with my needs.
However, this caretaker in me was at war with my need for help and support.
Fast forward to now. Not being able to ask for help has often times left me feeling more vulnerable, lost and alone. It also has undermined my confidence because I realize I don’t know how to ask for help without appearing disadvantaged. This flies in the face of exerting confidence and being perceived as the one who has her act together.
However, recently, and quietly, there has been a shift. I have found a core group of loyal friends and women who take charge. Observing their can-do-ness I realize something…their bond is in their ability to give and receive help. And they have included me in their circle of encouragement, trust, and love.
It’s a whole new world and one that I am not entirely comfortable with…yet. But when I begin to feel overwhelmed or alone, there is a collective voice from my fabulous female tribe that somehow has their own sixth sense to throw me a lifeline without having to ask. Whether it be an anecdote, a delicious and challenging recipe, a well-timed and inappropriate joke, an invitation to coffee, lunch, or the much needed happy hour, these women are circling the wagons and helping me. In the process they are reinventing me.
The funny thing is…they don’t even know or realize how much their love and support means to me. Of course I say thank you, but if I were to truly express how much I appreciate their outreach, trust, consideration and wisdom I would probably get too emotional because I tend to be overly effusive. It’s the small things that have the largest impact on me.
So here I am to thank you. Humbly and with the utmost gratitude. You know who you are. The dear friends and sisters who repeatedly came to my aid over break-ups, new jobs, big moves, marriage, miscarriage, bouncing babies. The women who are my co-workers and mentors who valued and validated my abilities. The confidante who always laughs at my jokes. And the new friends who make me feel appreciated through conversation and seeking out my opinions.
Although it doesn’t traditionally sound like help, at least not in the sense that some people define, being a part of something larger and feeling appreciated reminds me that to give is to receive.
So now that I have unofficially met you (my readers), I am going to again step out of my comfort zone and ask you for help. Please remember to ask for help – and don’t wait as long as I did to do it. As women, we need to stop feeling like it is a weakness to lean or need some extra support. We are a gender often defined by our gratitude and our heart – and I don’t ever see that as a negative. The women who have helped me, stood by me and given me a push when needed have shaped me.
So I am asking you to help me — by remembering to ask others to help you!