"I Hate Asking for Help"
Excuse #1 “I Don’t Want to Look Weak”
On his first day of kindergarten, Joy Stewart’s son brought home a raft of
paperwork, but only one document gave her pause: the emergency-contact form, on
which she had to name someone who could pick Joshua up at school if she or her
husband couldn’t be reached. “My family and friends aren’t available during
school hours, so I didn’t have many options,” says Stewart, 41, a real estate
agent and mom of two in North Wales, PA. “I wanted to ask my neighbor Nancy but
we weren’t close — we just smiled and waved across the cul-de-sac. I figured
she’d see me as pathetic and think, Why is Joy asking me? Doesn’t she have any
Turning to others in times of need should not be a source of shame. Rather,
it’s a sign of strength and smarts because it means you know what you can and
can’t handle and that you’re planning ahead to get everything done regardless.
“But asking for help can reveal things about yourself that you may not be proud
of or happy with,” Klaver says. “In Joy’s case, she didn’t like admitting that
she didn’t have anyone she could call on to help her out.” To avoid falling
into a similar trap, remind yourself that asking for help strengthens social
bonds. “When you make yourself vulnerable, others open up in return,” Klaver
Stewart agonized for two weeks, and then, finally, the day before the form
was due, she mustered the courage to approach Nancy. Not surprisingly, Nancy
happily agreed to be her emergency contact. “I wish I’d asked sooner, because
it would have spared me a lot of angst,” Stewart says. “I wasted so much energy
— and if Nancy had said no, I wouldn’t have had any backup plan.” A bonus to
Stewart’s outreach: The two women now are friends and regularly chat
Excuse #2 “I Don’t Want to Impose on My Friends”
When Sharon Marcus moved to New York City from San Francisco, her good
friend Anita volunteered to come paint her new apartment and do minor repairs.
Marcus wanted to learn those skills and knew she would enjoy working with her
friend. Still, “it seemed like a terrible imposition to ask her to take time
off from her job, fly across the country, and spend a long weekend working on
my new place,” says Marcus, 41, an English professor. She fretted for a week
about whether or not to take Anita up on the offer.