When you Need Help Asking for Help

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who know how to ask for help and those who would rather spend the rest of their life stranded at the top of an active volcano than ask for help. I fall into the latter category. There is something about needing assistance that just scares some of us. We have no problem helping others, but we’ve convinced ourselves that we are capable and should be able to handle every situation that comes our way without any help.

Evidence of my phobia of asking for help:

  • I’ve never used my professors’ office hours for anything other than just chatting with them
  • I’ve never used the writing center or tutoring services offered on campus
  • I’ve never attended a study group session

This has worked for me; I’ve made it through college so far with minimal issues and maximum grades. I’ve exhausted myself in the process, but it’s worked. It’s worked great, that is, until this semester. I had a short stint this spring where I was out for a week because of a flu that had me hospitalized. I was on pain medications for 2 weeks following the hospitalization. The first week, I wasn’t even in class because I was at the hospital. The second week I skipped multiple classes because I was still exhausted. The third week I had a ridiculously hard time concentrating and participating in class because of the side effects from the pain meds. For all intents and purposes I missed all of my classes for three weeks.

For the first time ever in my college career, I came face to face with the possibility of not passing some of my classes, and I realized that I needed to do something that set my hair on end- I needed to ask for help.

I went to disabilities services and asked for a letter stating that I would need extensions on assignments. I visited our dean of students who was familiar with my situation and asked her to send an email to all of my professors requesting grace and help in attaining lecture information and assignment details. I emailed or talked with all of my professors, explaining how hard of a worker I am, but how much help I will need in order to not feel swamped as I made up my missed work. I asked my fellow students for help in understanding concepts and getting notes from days that I missed or was too tired to pay attention during class.

And you know what? It worked. Not only did the disabilities services and dean of students gladly write those letters and emails, they offered to assist me in any way that I could think of over the coming 3 months, assuring me that they would do whatever they could to help me graduate with the grades I deserve. Not only did my professors provide extensions and notes from lectures that I missed, but some of them even pardoned assignments, knowing that I was bogged down with make-up work. Not only did my classmates explain concepts to me, but they vouched for me to my professors and came along-side me, providing support and help in any way that I needed.

When it comes down to it, we aren’t able to make this academic and career journey alone. We will never be the ones with the most knowledge. We will never be the ones with the most experience. We always have something to learn, and need to humble ourselves and be willing to ask for help along the way. Look to your professors, to your bosses, to your mentors and advisors. Ask them for guidance when you’re confused, for help when you’re behind, or for direction when you’re lost.

We might be capable, but there’s no reason for us to make our journeys harder than they should be- don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Written by: Career Peer Nicky

Tell us what you thing: What is one area of your life that you feel uncomfortable asking for help in?

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