It’s easy for us to give advice to others to ‘ask for help’ when they don’t know something or when they are struggling. But often, we can get stuck because we don’t know what to ask for. I may be struggling right now and may benefit from receiving help, but I’m not sure what kind of help I even need. How do I ask for something if I don’t even know what I need?
You walk into a burger restaurant, hungry and ready to order some food to eat. You wait in line and gaze at the menu, knowing you want something but not sure exactly what yet. When it’s your turn to speak to the cashier to place your order, you stare at them dumbfounded, mouth agape. You still haven’t decided what you wanted, and frankly, you don’t really know what you want.
“What can I get you today?” the cashier asks.
“Can I get … something to eat?” You respond.
You knew that you wanted something to eat, but you weren’t sure what. Realizing what you said, you quickly become embarrassed. Of course the cashier knew you wanted something to eat! You’re in line at a restaurant!
We often feel embarrassed and ashamed for not knowing what we don’t know. But how will we come to know these things if we don’t ask for help? It is alright to express and communicate your struggles, worries, frustrations, and ignorance to someone that can help. That is the point! If you don’t know what you need, maybe this individual may know and can direct you to what you need.
In our imaginary scenario, the cashier and employee of this burger restaurant may be more knowledgable on the types of burgers, beverages, smoothies, and offerings that the restaurant has and might be able to help guide you in the right direction.
The employee might ask you if you have any allergies, if you have a preference for a meat or veggie burger, if you wanted a beverage alongside your food, and if you wanted this food to go or for here to eat in the restaurant. Through communicating and asking you questions, the employee can help guide you to knowing something you didn’t know before (in this case, knowing what you want to order).
In our lives, it might not be an employee at a burger restaurant, but it might be our manager at work, or a teacher at school. It might be an older classmate or our younger sibling. It might your therapist or your dentist. Depending on what we need help with, the source of that help will be different.
We don’t need to know exactly what we need help with. There’s no shame in not knowing as long as we are trying our best. Once we realize and recognize that we need help with something, we could reach out to someone we believe to be able to help and communicate our concerns, worries, and struggles. After hearing our feelings and experience, perhaps this individual could share their experience or guide us to techniques, knowledge, and information to help resolve our concerns. Or, perhaps if they aren’t able to give us the help we need, they can help guide us to someone who can.