I always used to pride myself in being self-sufficient.
I didn’t need anyone else. I could take care of myself.
Most of this stemmed from my people-pleasing tendencies and my fear of being a burden. If I never imposed on others, then they would have no reason to dislike me, right?
But about halfway through my junior year of college, I felt frustrated. I had so many friends, but I didn’t feel close to any of them. I felt like I was giving my all to them, only to get nothing back.
I felt alone. I felt like there was no one who I could go to when I felt broken. No one knew the gravity of my grief or pain. Everyone just viewed me as the happy, bubbly, optimistic girl, but never saw deeper.
Then I realized why I felt this way:
I wasn’t letting people in.
Friends would ask me how I was doing, and I would smile and say I was doing fine out of habit—even when I wasn’t. I shied away from any vulnerability, but then wondered why I felt so alone.
I always thought that asking for help made me a burden. I always figured that my issues were mine alone, and I had to get through them on my own. I was the “normal” one in my family, as I’ve mentioned before. My brother and my sister were the ones who needed help, and I was the kid who didn’t.
Being surrounded by this growing up taught me that needing help or asking for assistance was a weakness. Being less than okay was a weakness. Not being 100% bubbly Kim wasn’t allowed.
So I learned to fight my battles on my own and didn’t think much of it.
Until that moment during my junior year of college. I thought back to the times when I was able to come alongside my friends who were struggling. Help them fold their laundry. Hold them when they cried. Talk them out of a panic attack.
Was I mad at them for not being okay?
Of course not.
Did I think they were a burden for reaching out?
Were they weak for needing help?
Are you kidding? No!
In fact, I was glad that I was able to help them in their time of need. Not only did it strengthen our friendship, but it helped me feel better that I could help someone else. It made me feel important. Needed.
Why was I holding myself to a much higher standard?
If I felt better when helping others, perhaps my friends felt the same way. If I appreciated their vulnerability, then maybe they could appreciate mine. If I enjoyed helping others, then maybe my friends could enjoy helping me.
Though I am still growing and learning, I have taken many steps in the past three years to learn to not only accept help but also ask for it.
My friends, there is no shame in needing help, asking for help, and accepting help. The people who are in our lives are there because they want to be. Asking for help every now and again is not going to drive them away.
In fact, being vulnerable and asking for help allows others to see new parts of you and it strengthens your relationship. Whether it be an old friend, a co-worker, a family member, a classmate, a spouse, or even a stranger, vulnerability has a place in our lives and our relationships.
It’s time to make space for it.
Do you also have a hard time taking the mask off?
What are some situations in which you could ask for help and let others in?