I’ve floundered several times within my career. It wasn’t because, I lacked talent and discipline. It was because I didn’t know
when to reach for guidance despite my parents always telling me as a child, “Part of growing up is knowing when to ask for help. You’re not in it alone.” Yet, hearing that bit of knowledge doesn’t stop the fear associated with help. And so I continued to flounder when working on my ebooks, while tapping into to new markets with my writing career and finding ways to pay off my student loans.
The truth is, I valued putting on a tough face more than I did my dream. I wasn’t allowing myself to be put in that vulnerable position often associated with requesting assistance and didn’t realize that once I did get the help I needed, I’d be on my way to getting what I truly desired. It turns out I’m not alone. Let’s face it, most people view the act of asking for help as being powerless, submissive, a burden, or being weak. Yet, the older and wiser will say it’s time to see getting help for what it truly is – the ability to take control of the situation. Of course, I’ve been too proud to see it that way. As a result, my ebook flopped, my student loans are still not paid off, and my attempts at book writing have failed on several occasions. I didn’t really learn my lesson until it was time for me to write my latest personal essay.
As previously stated in my fear challenge posts, I am an extremely private person, so writing about a topic so close to me was huge. When I made the leap, I knew I had to get it right so I told myself I would ask for help in the form of feedback from friends. Though I made up my mind mentally, I couldn’t physically make it happen because in my mind all I saw was rejection.
While I drafted the emails to peers asking for help regarding my essay, my head filled with negative thoughts:
What if they ignore me?
What if they don’t like me?
What if they think I’m stupid?
Will they think I’m wasting their time?
What if they think I’m not good?
What if I’m a failure?
The negative thoughts continued like this for a while and clouded my previous judgments. As a result, I submitted my essay to several outlets sans feedback and didn’t hear a peep. I felt like my worst fears had come true. I was a failure and they hated me. I was convinced my essays were so bad, editors didn’t even think it was worth it to respond to me.
After I beat myself up about it for a week, I decided to try it again with help from others. Once again, I decided to draft emails to those I respect asking for help. And just like last time, the negative thoughts and “what if’s” creeped back in mind.
What if they think I have no business writing?
What if they think I’m a loser?
So on and so forth…
Somewhere around my fifteenth negative thought I realized what the problem was. I had somehow found a way to turn asking for help regarding my essay into something personal. I had subconsciously replaced the word “personal essay” with “me”. My mind had tricked me into thinking rejection of my essay was synonymous with personal rejection. I forgot the reason why I was asking for help and what I could accomplish with it.
Not only did I forget what help I was asking for, I had somehow lost faith in humanity in the process. I forgot that we are only human and everyone needs help every now and then. And for the most part, people are happy to give it. People like to feel needed and part of someone’s success; especially when you are dealing with love ones or those you have great respect for. Why would I deprive my friends and family of the chance to part of my success? Better yet, why would I deprive myself of success by refusing to ask for help? It was a foolish reason to hinder myself.
Of course, after a bit more coaxing I finally replaced “me” with “essay,” trusted my peers, and finally hit send. And then the miracle happened. I received great feedback from my loved ones, applied it to my essay, submitted it to editors and nailed a publication. Not only, did my essay got published on one of my favorite websites, it got picked up by several more including Huffington Post, and XO Jane.
After all was said and done, I couldn’t help but think what else I would have accomplished if I had asked for help. Perhaps, if we all stopped seeing the act of asking for help as showing weakness and vulnerability and instead viewed as it a way to build strength and get ahead, we’d all have the opportunity to get what we want in life.
How do you deal with asking for help? Has the reluctance to ask ever hindered your progress?
TERRIfic Quip: “It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.”