Jan 31, 2014

P3 Project: January 1st, 2014 - Help Me

There are a lot of things that I’m just really not good at saying.

Everyone has those things that they just can’t say. Sometimes, it’s a good thing that they can’t say them because they don’t need to be said. As the phrase goes: if you can’t say something nice: keep your mouth shut. But then there are those other things that just need to be said and aren’t. Maybe it’s pride, or ego. Sometimes, it’s just timing or finding the right moment. Be it “I’m sorry” or “I made a mistake” to “I need you” or even “I need you to leave,” sometimes we find ourselves staring at another person, mouth open but no words will come forth. Or that sharp intake of breath happens, and then is exhaled through clenched teeth. Whatever the case, it creates an empty space between you and the other person. And if left unchecked, that space will fill up with the things that you don’t say to them. Or, the message that needs to be conveyed simply isn’t. For me, I know what one of those phrases is and it’s caused me an immeasurable amount of discomfort. And for a person that always has something to say, these two words are the hardest ones to speak aloud:

Help me.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s not that hard to say to another person. But I disagree. The words “Help me” are a sign of defeat. They are a sign that my best simply wasn’t good enough and now, I find myself at the mercy of another person. Saying those two words means that I have failed at whatever task that I was attempting and now need to be bailed out or assisted or in some other way rescued from something that I believed at one point that I could handle. Was it because of a miscalculation on my part? For a guy with a pretty high IQ, there’s not much that I miss. So, that is an unacceptable answer to me. Was I not good enough? That’s a dark road that no one should be left stranded on under any circumstances. Or it is that I just came up short? Although all of these questions are all well and good, there is a more important question that I’m learning that needs to be answered:

Why is it so hard for me to ask for help, but I am willing to give it so readily?

Let’s go back a little bit. I’ve always thought of myself to be a fairly nice guy, for the most part. Everyone has their dog days, but when I’m able to help someone else out, in any way that I can, I leap to the chance. I understand more than most that people sometimes just need a break, or just need to have something nice happen to them for once. When things seem like they are spinning out of control, a moment to just breathe and enjoy a random act of kindness can be the difference between perseverance and insanity (and yes, I’m aware that I’ve already covered that…). But if I’m so willing to help, and don’t ever look down on a person for needing help, why can’t I accept my own advice? It’s simple, really. I hold myself to a different standard than I hold others. It’s okay for me to help people, but completely unacceptable to ask someone else. And that was fine by me, until I was confronted with someone who thinks about help the same way that I do. And no matter what anyone tells you, looking into a mirror is an eye-opening experience. But the whole reason that I wrote this post is to say this:

The next time that someone asks you for help, no matter how big or small remember this: to ask another human being for help is one of the most vulnerable states that a person can be in. And the fact that they asked you shows a lot about how they feel about you as a person. But as nice as it is to be that person who others can come to for help, from a shoulder to cry on to an accomplice in something bigger, remember that you have to be able to set aside your pride enough to ask someone for help. And that is a much better test of the character of a person than offering a helping hand to a person in need. I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help every once in a while. But giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes, offering a hand to someone else is far easier than waiting for them to ask you. More importantly, when it comes to those around you, say what you feel, and don’t be afraid to tell the people who matter the things that count. The saddest thing on earth is to learn too late that the distance between you and the ones you love was created by the space created by things left unsaid.

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