“I can do it myself!” If you’re a parent or have spent any time around small children, it’s a frequently uttered phrase. It must be around age 3 or 4 they start to push on their independence. It’s part of every childhood and, honestly, necessary as they learn how to operate in the world apart from their parents.
As children grow up, they occasionally revert back, and start relying on mom again. My hypothesis is that they have so many other things occupying their minds, they don’t forget, but they don’t want to be bothered. My boys finally confessed to me in their late teens that it was easier to ask me than to figure it out themselves. Basically, they busted themselves. Now, I’m on to them.
I’ve never lost that independent piece of myself, my desire to do things myself. Each time I figure out how to do something around my house, the sense of satisfaction is worth it. I mean, I fixed a toilet leak recently, where’s the Girl Scout badge for that? Yet…I’ve been to told being self-sufficient is a sin. And although I couldn’t wrap my brain around that idea, it still bothered me. Here’s what I have to say about that. If you’re in my camp and are self-sufficient, I’m fairly certain Moses didn’t inscribe that one on the tablets. If anyone tries to tell you that, my answer is ‘nope.’ Moving on…
What is it about asking for, or accepting help that proves challenging? I’ve wrestled with the idea for a few years now, never quite putting my finger on it. For a while, I wondered if it had something to do with not wanting to make the ask, not wanting to rely on others. Maybe. It can be risky, a lot of unknowns. The funny thing is that I love helping people. I’m more than happy to jump in and lending a helping hand or find a solution. I often say that I could be a concierge. Putting together the pieces for people so they can have the best experience possible.
But yesterday, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment. I’d decided to replace the light fixture over my kitchen table. I know a couple of guys, one of whom is an actual electrician, who told me they come over and help. Nah…I can figure it out. I got the old one down, no problem. As I stood on the ladder staring at the wires, not gonna lie, I was a little perplexed how I was going to fit it all together. Obvi, white to white, black to black, but there was the grounding wire, the bracket…so many pieces. I contemplated YouTube solutions, or puzzling it out.
Instead, I asked for help. My friend came over, literally took him 15 minutes. Done. Light hung. Ta-da!
In my ‘a-ha’ moment I realized, it wasn’t that I had to do it myself, it’s that I don’t want to inconvenience others. I don’t want to be a bother. For me to ask for help feels tremendously vulnerable. It’s not the act of asking for help that causes hesitation, it’s the mental tape of ‘am I enough.’ Each time I was told I was overly self-sufficient; all it did was drive home the not good enough message. When I was teased for the independence? Same thing made me feel like I was doing something wrong, not enough.
Taking steps to be vulnerable, to ask for help, may not seem like no big thang, but, if you get this at all, it is. And I know there are many women out there who share my wiring. How do we overcome it? By doing the next thing. Yesterday, the next thing was asking for help with my light. Next week? Ask. That’s all that needs to happen. Whatever it is, make the ask.
The truth is, my friends, you are worthy, you are enough. All the messaging that gets in the way of that, it’s noise. I get that it’s hard, I’m right there with you, but you can be vulnerable. You are brave and courageous and I believe in you.