How I'm Learning to Ask for Help

How I'm Learning to Ask for Help

Help and I don’t really get along. As the oldest of four children born in five years, I grew up quick. I took pride in being the first to do everything. The attention I got from my parents was oriented around that like a sacred willow tree. Learning to tie my own shoelaces, learning to read, taking public transport home first from secondary school. I went places first. I did things first. I moved thousands of miles away to a new country, a new continent. And it was all about doing them on my own, without anyone else’s help.

Well, fast forward about 2 and ¾ decades, and I feel like I’m on an island of population one. In our family therapy sessions over this winter break, a theme that came up for me was: wow, I live such a fiercely independent life, what would it even look like to ask for help? I have learnt to survive on my own for so long, I feel like I’ve lost the capacity to rely on others, to see how they could fit into my life, to see how I could let myself be taken care of. It’s pretty unhealthy and lonely where I am here, at least that’s what I’m being taught to think. Living that far away from your immediate family, in a foreign country, is really fucking hard. I’m worried of having others rely on me though too, because I want the freedom to come and go as I please. I don’t want to be tied down by anything, but that leaves me feeling cut off from any kind of static grounded-ness, the kind of acceptance and presence you need to be deeply connected to others.

I lack mentors. I can be a snob when it comes to other people, and for some reason most of the older folks that I have in my life are no one that I would want to be like. I admire some of them for their fierce independence, or calm demeanor, or kindheartedness. But the thought of them mentoring me terrifies me. I judge others so harshly because I have judged myself harshly also. Anxiety and perfectionism has often coursed through my veins, as well as my blood. I’m irritated easily by my family, and yet, recently all I have been thinking about is that at the end of the day, I just want to feel that I was loved. It’s as simple as that, really. Whether it’s from family or fame, or perhaps being an ambassador or leading a small country, I would just like to feel that I was loved.

I think I will resolve to make a list of things I need help with. I think I need to realize that I don’t know what I don’t know, and actually, talking to people might be really helpful for getting me to where I want to go in my life. I’ll make a list of things now. I will, I promise. I have to remember that asking for help is not a kind of weakness, but a strength

  1. I want to send my book to my beta readers, and ask for their feedback in reading it
  2. I would really like my dad’s help in paying for my extra bag to New York
  3. I would like some help from the staff at Bistro So to make my sure my birthday party runs smoothly on 27th
  4. I would like help from Meg Walton to get a Data Product Manager job at Vox
  5. I would like to set up some time to meet with Klara and other authors who have actually published fiction, to see what I am doing wrong
  6. I would like to ask my manager for a merit increase, so it is easier for me to pay my rent or get rid of my rent entirely
  7. I would like help editing my podcast so that I can actually produce the stories that I want to make
  8. I would love an invitation to stay somewhere warm.

This piece was from my first time in the UnMute writing series, led by Ann Randolph, January 2022.

How I'm Learning to Ask for Help

Help and I don’t really get along. As the oldest of four children born in five years, I grew up quick. I took pride in being the first to do everything. The attention I got from my parents was oriented around that like a sacred willow tree. Learning to tie my own shoelaces, learning to read, taking public transport home first from secondary school. I went places first. I did things first. I moved thousands of miles away to a new country, a new continent. And it was all about doing them on my own, without anyone else’s help.

Well, fast forward about 2 and ¾ decades, and I feel like I’m on an island of population one. In our family therapy sessions over this winter break, a theme that came up for me was: wow, I live such a fiercely independent life, what would it even look like to ask for help? I have learnt to survive on my own for so long, I feel like I’ve lost the capacity to rely on others, to see how they could fit into my life, to see how I could let myself be taken care of. It’s pretty unhealthy and lonely where I am here, at least that’s what I’m being taught to think. Living that far away from your immediate family, in a foreign country, is really fucking hard. I’m worried of having others rely on me though too, because I want the freedom to come and go as I please. I don’t want to be tied down by anything, but that leaves me feeling cut off from any kind of static grounded-ness, the kind of acceptance and presence you need to be deeply connected to others.

I lack mentors. I can be a snob when it comes to other people, and for some reason most of the older folks that I have in my life are no one that I would want to be like. I admire some of them for their fierce independence, or calm demeanor, or kindheartedness. But the thought of them mentoring me terrifies me. I judge others so harshly because I have judged myself harshly also. Anxiety and perfectionism has often coursed through my veins, as well as my blood. I’m irritated easily by my family, and yet, recently all I have been thinking about is that at the end of the day, I just want to feel that I was loved. It’s as simple as that, really. Whether it’s from family or fame, or perhaps being an ambassador or leading a small country, I would just like to feel that I was loved.

I think I will resolve to make a list of things I need help with. I think I need to realize that I don’t know what I don’t know, and actually, talking to people might be really helpful for getting me to where I want to go in my life. I’ll make a list of things now. I will, I promise. I have to remember that asking for help is not a kind of weakness, but a strength

  1. I want to send my book to my beta readers, and ask for their feedback in reading it
  2. I would really like my dad’s help in paying for my extra bag to New York
  3. I would like some help from the staff at Bistro So to make my sure my birthday party runs smoothly on 27th
  4. I would like help from Meg Walton to get a Data Product Manager job at Vox
  5. I would like to set up some time to meet with Klara and other authors who have actually published fiction, to see what I am doing wrong
  6. I would like to ask my manager for a merit increase, so it is easier for me to pay my rent or get rid of my rent entirely
  7. I would like help editing my podcast so that I can actually produce the stories that I want to make
  8. I would love an invitation to stay somewhere warm.

This piece was from my first time in the UnMute writing series, led by Ann Randolph, January 2022.

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