In the last few weeks, how many of you held up that white flag and proclaimed “SOS! I can’t do this by myself anymore!?”
And how many of you held back because…
...you didn’t want to be seen as weak?
...you didn’t want to bother anyone else?
...you felt afraid of letting go and delegating tasks?
Chances are you’d be more than happy to help out a friend or colleague if they asked you for a favor. But so few women actually ask, and instead try to do everything by themselves.
Why do we carry so much pride in getting to the finish line alone?
Why do we carry such a stigma of shame around asking for help?
We can’t seem to accept someone’s perception that we can’t do it all.. Especially when we see our female counterparts all around us tackle everything with ease (all lies...thanks, social media.)
Somewhere along the line (maybe it wove itself into our DNA over the generations?) we’ve equated asking for help with failure.
“She can’t do all that? Wow, guess she isn’t as [smart/strong/healthy/prepared/versatile] as I thought she was.” Insert your self-deprecating adjective of choice.
I mean...we shouldn’t really be surprised that we have some psychological unraveling to do. Only a half-century ago a “good woman” was marked by managing the children and home effortlessly while in lipstick, pearls, and heels. If we saw one of our female peers doing that today, we’d likely think she needed psychiatric intervention.
So really, we have come a LONG way...but, there is more to do. And this is the area I truly see more progress needs to be made with our feminine framework.
Consider this story…
Stacy wants to train for a half-marathon, but she feels guilty about the amount of time that training will take away from her work and family. She decides that in order to not slack on either priority, she will listen in on work calls while running, all while pushing her kids in a stroller...slinging snacks and tablets along the way. The mental burnout from this rivals the physical exhaustion of training.
Amy also wants to train for a half marathon. She knows that this is a goal she has wanted to achieve for herself for some time, so she makes a plan of action. She finds child care support for each run, whether it’s a spouse, grandparent, or hired help. At work, she delegates the tasks that she doesn’t need to do. She commits to not checking work emails during her running time. Her dedicated time to training has given her mind time to wander and brainstorm new ideas.
Stacy and Amy arrive on marathon day. All of their training has led to this. The starting whistle echoes, and over the course of 2 hours, they complete their 13.2 miles. They both receive their completion medal at the finish line. The SAME medal.
Both women took completely different approaches to training, yet their outcome was the same. They both finished the half-marathon. But unlike Amy, Stacy had a much more grueling training experience and was mentally taxed out.
The moral of this story? No one is giving medals out for the sheer amount of stuff you take on.
Life is kinda the same way. No one gets out alive. Dark, I know...but trying to give some perspective here.
Do you want to get to the finish line of life thinking “Yes! Mission accomplished. I took on so much and didn’t need ANY help. It totally sucked, but...Go Me!”
Or do you want to look back at a life where you built an incredible support system? One that lifted you up when you fell and support was reciprocated among all the members.
Whether you do it alone or with support, we all get the same prize at the end.
So Why Don’t Women Ask for Help?
The bottom line is...we weren’t really raised to ask for help. We weren’t shown how to ask for help. Chances are your mom and grandma and other female role models in your life were, and are, strong and self-reliant...while also being nurturing. And if they were struggling, the solution simply was… suck it up.
And while I’m immensely grateful for the role models they have been when it comes to female strength, self-reliance, and grace, I just don’t think “sucking it up” is a sustainable life solution anymore.
Attempting to thrive with a “suck it up” mentality, combined with living in a culture that has touted “busy” as a badge of honor, is an inevitable recipe for burnout.
In a world where women are fighting to close the gender gap, independence has become coveted. And while independence is a great thing to strive for — we should be able to take care of ourselves, provide for ourselves and rely on ourselves throughout life — there’s also a point where we can (and should) turn to other people for help.
By asking another woman for help, you’re actually accomplishing 2 things. 1.- you’re getting the assistance you need, and 2. - you’re subliminally extending an olive branch that lets that other women know that if they are ever struggling, they can ask YOU for help.
So asking for help isn’t as selfish as your history may have led you to believe.
As this crazy time in life starts winding down (hopefully 🤞), I challenge you to really look within and identify something that YOU need help with. And girl, ask for it! Not in a month or a year. Right now.
You can have it all.
But you don’t have to do it all.