Asking for help has always been so hard for me. I always hated it when I couldn’t do something for myself. I felt like a failure. I was so used to being asked for help, I sort of felt like I’d lose my identity as “the knower” if I put myself on the other side of the table.
I flunked in college because I was utterly terrified to ask for help. Admitting I was lost and needed help was, for me, like stepping out of a plane without a parachute. Even if I wanted to do it, my body wouldn’t budge. Believe it or not, through twelve years of grade school I did not once say, “I don’t know how to do this. Please show me.”
I would do anything else instead. Skip class to study it on my own, work backwards from the solution in the back of the text, or most often, simply avoid it for the rest of my life.
Naturally, this strategy caused some problems. My report cards would eventually betray this flaw of mine. They’d go something like A, A+, B+, A, D. I’d fall off the track in the occasional course, because I’d hit a snag I couldn’t work through. I wouldn’t understand one concept, and then I’d have to BS my way through everything for the rest of the semester. A two-minute inquiry, a few times a year would have been enough for me to stay on the honor roll.
I’ve toned it down over the years, but the leave-me-alone-I-can-do-it-myself ethic still dominates, most of the time. I find myself spending an hour searching the web to answer a question myself instead of just calling somebody who would certainly be able to tell me.
I know I’m not the only one with this impractical level of compulsive DIY. My friend’s daughter (a brilliant little kid) was famous for tearing her jacket off if somebody attempted to help her put it on. She’d toss it on the ground, pick it up with a harumph, and put it on herself. “Fiercely independent, this one,” her mother would say.
If you’ve been following my Experiment No. 2 (Part 2), you’ve seen that I’ve been having some problems. For weeks now I’ve been floundering with these new exercises, which has opened up a whole world of doubt in everything I did with a kettlebell, even the movements I already knew.
Suddenly I couldn’t go full-bore like I wanted to. I hesitated at everything, quitting workouts halfway through because I thought I might be hurting myself or wasting my time.
My confidence was shot, and the whole thing was coming apart at the seams. I considered packing it in for now, even taking the drastic but familiar approach of avoiding it for the rest of my life.
With a little encouragement from one of the more influential people in my life, I bit the bullet and booked a session with a certified kettlebell instructor. Before he arrived, I prepared all my excuses for why I didn’t know what I was doing. I was scared of being embarrassed for my ignorance and incompetence, even berated for it. I envisioned some guy like Hans or Franz, pummeling me with a medicine ball, shouting in an Austrian accent that I’m just not cut out for this.
Of course, there was none of that. He was extremely easygoing, only there to serve me and my goals, wherever I was at.
Sixty minutes later, I knew what I was doing wrong. I’m sitting here now, and all of this month’s second-guessing, web-scouring, self-loathing and self-doubt are gone. Yesterday’s problem, just like that.
I have confidence in my form now. I’m ready to go at it again, and all I had to do was get a pro to show me the way. It’s a shame I spent so many hours trying to magically pluck the proper know-how out of thin air.
If you’re fiercely DIY-inclined like me, and there’s something you’re struggling with, stop wasting your time and just get help. Embrace the role of helpless moron, it’s actually kind of fun. The cost is probably negligible compared to the amount of time and frustration you’d have spent otherwise. My time is money too, and I blew a lot of it trying to be someone who doesn’t need help.
But I do need help. Help is awesome. And it’s everywhere.
Photo by Witt Istanbul Suites