Sometimes you can ask for help, and it’s actually beneficial. But, sometimes you can’t ask for help and you’ve just got to figure things out on your own.
When Josh and I went to Chicago with our friends Grace and Elizabeth, we learned this lesson the hard way. We decided to go on a tower tour, but granted that everyone else and their children wanted to go their too at precisely the same time, there was obviously a line. There wasn’t much we could do about it, so we just stayed in line and hoped that our rental car wouldn’t get towed if the parking meter ran out before we could get back to it.
The tower was super cool and totally worth it. But, when we finally got through with it, we realized there were about 10 minutes left on the parking meter and we were a whiles away. We walked at our fastest walking pace, until we realized that that wasn’t going to do us any good. We straight up started jogging through the streets because…why not?
As we got closer, we started saying “Okay, good. We’re close. We’re close.” Except…where exactly was the car? I think it was the intersection of this street and that one. But, it wasn’t not here. What.
After turning down 2 streets, we decided to split up. Two of us running like lost puppies one way and two the other. Panting like a dog, Elizabeth and I finally found the car as we raced up to it and hugged it gently.
Now, I’m sure we definitely looked like we needed help. Lost tourists running around the streets with seemingly no end in sight. Yet, stopping to ask for help would not have helped at all. Nobody knew where we parked the car, not even us.
I find myself in this dilemma a lot. There are probably a lot of things that I could ask for help on. Things that I don’t understand or that I’m not sure about. I’m sure that I could take other people’s opinions for what they’re worth and form my own based on the information that they can provide. But, that takes a lot of time, and when you’re searching for something that only you know the location of, it’s kind of a waste of time to stop and ask other people where the car is.
I began writing about this idea of help thinking that my story was all about the benefits of asking for help. But, I think there is something to be said for independent thinking and self-trust. I see this a lot in my students, where they will insist on getting help with something before they’ve taken several steps to figure it out on their own.
In the end, I think it’s a balance.
I think it is both. I think that knowing when to ask for help versus when to take things on your own is a skill that is important to develop. It’s not okay to not ask for help if your in an abusive situation. It’s not okay to not ask for help if you are struggling with a mental illness and there’s literally no physical way to change the chemical state of your brain. There’s a host of other situations where it’s not okay to not ask for help, I’m sure.
Yet, at the same time, it’s okay to trust yourself and be confident in what you know. It’s okay for me to recognize the unique experiences and skill sets that I have, and trust my own intuition and act independently.
For me, it’s easier to not ask for help. It’s easier to avoid difficult situations or find a different way if I reach a struggle that I need help with. Yet, I continue to learn this balance of judgment. Both in times where I’m forced to ask other people for help, and when I’m forced to find my own dang car and not ask anybody for help.