“Ancora imparo. [I am still learning.]”
― Michelangelo, at age 87 in 1562
I am still learning. And thank goodness, too. If all I had to go on for the rest of my life was all I know now, I think I’d be in a lot of trouble down the road. That’s the beauty of age, experience, and wisdom, I suppose. It takes life experience to gain knowledge, and life experience only comes with checking off the years.
A couple of years ago, I learned an important lesson that I wish I’d learned much sooner. I learned to ask for help.
A while back, I was working through where I wanted to take this site, while trying to keep my freelance writing jobs going, and thinking about the novel I was supposed to be writing. I was trying to write blog posts, maintain the website, fix tech issues, run a workshop, and keep a marriage ticking along. Finally, I threw up my hands and said what equated to, “I can’t do this all by myself, so I’m not going to do any of it.” I really was ready to throw in the towel.
Fortunately I have a wise group of peers and an amazing mentor who talked me through my angst and convinced me to ask for help. I found an assistant to help with the blog and found a web designer to take care of the site properly. Their help freed me up to do the work I really wanted to do, which is writing posts and developing this community. What’s more, the other work got done quicker and better than if I’d struggled along as usual trying to figure it all out for myself.
The experience gave me pause and caused me to look back at my past and take a close look at myself. Turns out I have never been a person who asks for help. It’s not so much pride that stops me from asking, but more a sense of toughness. “I can do this on my own. I don’t need help.” Now I’m writing it here, it sounds an awful lot like stubbornness, but there you go.
I was also tough (or stubborn) when I was going through the grinder of infertility and later, when I was trying to figure out how to ever make peace with my situation. I never asked for help, even though I needed it. In part I believed it was pointless to ask for help because no one else could really understand what I was going through. I also didn’t want to upset people I knew and cared about, and I didn’t want to put myself in the position of comforting them.
In hindsight, I wish I’d asked for help. I wish I’d taking the chance of confiding in a friend. I wish I’d thought to look for a support group or hired the professional help of a therapist. I would have arrived at my place of peace a lot sooner than I did. But hindsight is 20/20 as they say, and I hadn’t yet learned the value of asking for help.
How about you? Have you asked for help? If so, where have you found it?