Yana Blog > #emotions

Asking for Help

I feel that in the last year or so or maybe last few months, I finally got better at asking for help.

Asking for help has always been hard for me.  Coming to America when I was a pre-teen, I remember how my mom, an immigrant who spoke little English, didn't want to bother others or be a burden, and instead tried hard to make a good life on her own for me and my brother.  We had little or no friends.  I remember in college and grad school I studied hard and tried to excel on my own.  I'm always happy to help others but, like my mom, I didn't ask for help much.  I remember when back in grad school or when I did my first startup, at times I felt like I didn't know what I was doing: the last thing I wanted was to ask for help.   I learned later there's a name for it, imposter syndrome.

I'd just rather do other work myself then saying, Hey can you help me out?   Asking for help felt like a sign of weakness, who wants that.  As Americans, aren't we supposed to be self sufficient?   I'm not alone.  Other moms tell me before they ask for help, they feel they first need to put in 120%.  

As parents, we all work so hard to balance work, kids, other aspects of our lives. Like other parents, I want to do the best I can for my kids.  But it's a lot.  Where's our village?  Are we crazy to try to do this all on our own?   When I talk to other parents, I hear the same frustration.  We don't want to bother other parents who are already so busy.  But what if everybody's just waiting for somebody else to ask them for help.  It's kind of sad, right? Like we all could benefit from that mutual help.  I remember how back before Covid often times many of us each drive our kid half hour to a birthday party, when we could've carpool together and have more fun along the way.  I'd say happy to carpool or give folks a ride, but get no takers.  Finally I wised up and asked for a ride, that got better results. :)

I believe in mutual good.  I want to help everyone build a village to help each other. How do we build that village? My guess is it starts with someone asking others for help, and that makes it okay for others to also ask for help, like giving others permission.  Then mutual help will then grow from there. Even though I know that intellectually for a few years, it was still hard for me to get over the hurdle.  Maybe it's my childhood of watching my mom, or in school or work trying to excel on my own, or that lingering imposter feeling.

You know, there's always people who are good at asking for help.  I remember my grad school roommate.  A new immigrant, she had no problem asking for help.  And people loved to help her: everyone from other students in the dorm to famous professors at the school to her bosses and mentors in Wall Street.  I watched with wonder.  


I'm nowhere near my former roommate, but I've made some progress.  Maybe because I'm older and more accepting of myself, my strengths and my weaknesses.  Maybe I don't need to prove to others (or myself) as much and can open up more.  Maybe I'm more in touch with my feelings, and am able to share how I feel more effectively.  Maybe I've seen thru this faulty idea of not wanting to bother others: while it may seem like it's being nice to others, it's actually the opposite.  Just like I love to be asked of my opinion or help, because it makes me feel strong and capable, others might feel the same.  It's actually nicer to ask others for help: it makes them feel capable and appreciated.  

Sharing my needs or asking for help doesn't make me weak, it makes me more human and approachable.   And helping each other brings us closer.  

In the last couple of weeks I've told my co-worker I feel nervous about the event I'm running and he asked how he could help. I've told friends I felt overwhelmed on figuring out a renovation, and also admired what they've done with theirs, and they gave me a ton of good info.  I've told friends I was a total wreck after a particularly tough set of exercises, and got amazing tips that totally worked.  I've told a friend I needed help and my kids loved to hang out with theirs, and she's watching my kids for a few hours while my husband and I are busy with a project.  

I appreciate all the help and offer to help I've received, which has been tremendous.  But more than the practical help I've received, I value having friends I could count on, and knowing that I'd do the same for them. I feel we're connected, and that I'm not alone. My life has been richer since I've learned how to ask for help. 

I mean during this crazy time of Covid, lockdown, and remote learning, don't we all need a little extra help?  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

How Comfortable Are You on Asking for Help?

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