There is a social stigma that comes with allowing ourselves to ask for help once we are grown up. When we were kids, we asked for help all the time. Help me tie my shoe, I can’t find my backpack, can you explain this math problem? But somewhere in between paying for rent, landing a job, having a kid and buying a car we forget we can ask for help if we need it. We somehow believe we are less than if we don’t know what the hell we are doing. And this needs to change if we are going to be great at doing adult.
We are adults, and yet we think that somehow being an adult means we know exactly what we are doing all of the time and have the solution to every problem we encounter. The truth is, we are new to adulthood – we are experiencing a new adult day everyday. Why would we know what to do today, if we’ve never been to today before?
Sure we learn on the way and we discover what works and what doesn’t work, and at some point I guess the “there are no excuses because you’re an adult” line should figuratively work- BUT it doesn’t. What if we stumble and feel lost? Shouldn’t there be room for improving our lives with someone else? Again, I am going to blame Disney for creating this messed up way of looking at life. They put a strong tan boy in the jungle without parents who became a freaken animal loving survival genius, and we assume we can do the same? Thank you Disney for screwing us up once again. I mean, must we always imagine we live like Tarzan, alone in the jungle? We are not Tarzan!
What if we can’t figure out how to make a living? What if we get lost in our marriage and can’t figure out how to husband or wife? What if we suck at dating? What if our parenting skills stink and we realize our kids are out of control because we are stumbling in the dark? Again- WE ARE NOT TARZAN!
What if we just asked someone who might be getting it right, or who might know a bit more or who might be a compassionate ear that will listen and somehow make us feel less alone with some added perspective we could really use to improve? What if?
In my opinion the number one reason adults don’t ask for help falls into one word- SHAME.
Somehow in the adult syndrome, we morph into fear that has us believing to ask for help means we must admit we are failures, so we avoid it at ALL costs. We are ashamed of our inadequacies and we believe that allowing someone else into our world, will only have them pointing out our shameful incompetency more. This makes spilling feel impossible.
Here’s a little secret I’m going to let every adult in on. I know this secret, because A) I’m a woman, and I know everything and B) I actually speak to so many people on an everyday basis, that while I have not built charts or spent my time as a professional researcher, I am going to take a leap and self proclaim myself an expert because – again, I’m a woman –
Here’s the secret-
EVERY ADULT FEELS INADEQUATE at one point in time or another.
Asking someone to help us through a tough time is not failing. The only failure is in staying put in our own head that does not allow us to take that leap we might need to step out of our own shit.
My dad used to say, “If you stand in your own shit, you’re gonna get smelly.”
The only way to step out of our own selves is to allow someone else’s perspective in. The clue in asking for help is in the search. For one cannot ask anyone for help. When I am in a shit storm, I don’t turn to the first person who walks into Starbucks to unload. I have what I call my “Team”. They are usually a phone call or text away. (ya you know who you are).
They are the ones that know my imperfections and actually love me because of them. They are just as imperfect as I am, which is probably why I feel so safe with them. (This does not apply to paid experts I have used in the past- they are perfect- which is why I have to pay them to listen to my crap.) But the friends and family I call when I need a lift are improvising adulthood just as I am and they know that if at anytime they stumble, I am there to catch them as well with absolutely no judgment. Finding my team has taken a few years, and I need a team, because I have a lot of different issues I work through. I don’t use the entire team for every issue. Obviously- I mean does Google bring their HR problems to their production team? NO. They have divisions that handle each unique set of topics.
The truth is, we don’t live on an island and we cannot navigate life alone. I mean we can, but it is usually not very effective. When we reach out for help, when we let someone know we need a shoulder to cry on, we can use their advice or perspective, and we can allow our journey to be shared with someone else making our experiences in life far richer and less isolating. When you are on a dark road with only one light, it helps if there is a second person carrying another lamp to widen the view.
Shame is the weapon we use to protect our shallow selves. It does not insulate us from harm, it ignites it. Shame does not defend us from growth, it prevents it. It is the fortress that keeps us from living a full life.
Thelma & Louise exercise for the day: Ask someone you trust for help. Leave the fortress and take a leap. Ditch the Tarzan persona and get a spray tan instead.
Now Get Real Or Go Home!