I'm here to announce that I have a problem. And I'm not talking about my split ends, chewed fingernails, or my obsession with cheap bottles of wine. I'm talking about a real issue I've been dealing with probably forever that I've only just recently realized was actually holding me back, and probably causing me more stress than necessary (though, when you're in a constant state of mild anxiety-induced stress who even notices, right?).
I'm talking about asking for help. I am the worst at asking for help and the queen of proclaiming "I got this". I wear that phrase like a badge of honor, holding myself upright by it and planting my flag in its safe and familiar soil. In all honesty, that phrase has gotten me through the really tough days, the days I want to quit trying. The days that I’m too overwhelmed, too scared, too tired and beaten down. "I got this" is my mantra that keeps me going.
It's also one of my biggest weaknesses.
Carpet in the bedroom to rip up? I can do that. Large client at work need managing? I'm your girl. Mountain to climb on the other side of the country? I don't need you, I can do this by myself. That's me; independent, strong-willed, type-A, and drowning. Drowning because I, up until very recently, have had a really hard time letting go of control (ahem, still struggling). Until very recently, I haven’t been able to admit to myself that I was letting the ideas of how others might perceive me get in the way of my growth. And up until very recently, I haven’t felt vulnerable enough to share them.
Asking for help, in my mind, equates to:
I’m being a burden to them
They think this is a stupid question
I’m too weak to do this on my own
They trusted me with this and now I’m failing them
They won’t trust me in the future if I can’t figure this out
They’re already stressed/overwhelmed, I can’t add to it
They’ll think I can’t do my job right
I’ve already asked this question, if I ask again it’ll be annoying
I want to be seen as a leader and leaders do things on their own
I should be able to figure it out
I’ve realized that the problem with these thoughts, beyond the fact that they’re downright toxic to my mental health, is that by me being too scared to ask for help when it’s necessary because I fear any of the things listed above, I'm doing more harm than good for all parties involved. I’m living in my comfort zone, the space in which notoriously nothing grows. I’m not getting new perspectives or ideas, nor am I being very productive with my time and resources. Do I want my hand held every step of the way? No. But I understand now that there are moments that I do need assistance, guidance, direction, moral support, emotional support, etc. because, let’s face it, I’ve not lived enough life yet to do all of it alone, at least not well.
I’m learning to be at peace with that.
I’ve always told myself that I’m brave, strong, capable, and able to do anything I set my mind to. To be clear, I still absolutely believe those things. But I’ve forgotten, so selfishly, that I have a lot of people to thank for helping me remember these things on the bad days, and many more people to thank for helping to guide me through the really tough problems, whether they knew they were helping or not. I know with absolute certainty that these people are on my side and ready to draw their swords at a moment’s notice, and I, them. What a beautiful feeling of security.
It's taken quite a bit of self-reflection, several professional performance reviews, and a few fall-flat-on-my-face moments lately to make me see this problem more clearly than ever before. But as you can guess, as with any problem that needs solved, I got this (now with a little help).