The Hardest Words (Part 1): Help

After working from home for 9 months, I am observing my daily routines and habits in a new light. Without a commute, the architecture of my day has shifted ever so slightly: I am up earlier without the pressure to move faster, one cup of coffee has turned into two, and I am working on taking an afternoon walk around the neighborhood before darkness descends to make sure I (quite literally) see the light of day. Working from home has given me a freedom I haven’t known before. However, that freedom is juxtaposed with the fact the line between my work life and home life is blurrier than ever.

I have a career that fills me up. I get to use my gifts and talents on a regular basis, helping people Cultivate Insight and Influence Change. I pour a lot of time and energy into my work, which often leaves me depleted in the other areas of my life. Nothing new to see here folx. Adulting is hard.

2020 has forced me to get really honest with myself. There are parts of my life that haven’t been working for awhile so I swallowed my pride and made some decisions that took me out of my comfort zone. I did not, however, reach this conclusion gracefully. I found myself in a year-long rumble, spinning in these questions: What does it say about me that I can’t keep up with everything? What does it say about me that I need help? That I want help? I just need to try harder, do more, work more, work harder, work longer. I should be able to do this. Why can’t I do this?! Other people do this all the time! What is wrong with me? (OUCH).

Brené Brown teaches that “vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage”. Being vulnerable enough to admit I needed help, dare I say wanted help, was an act of courage. But here’s the thing: Making these decisions for myself and seeking out help rallied against decades of conditioned messaging around what it means to “work hard”. Ask for help? Never. (Hint: In my family, we aspire to be sacrificial lambs. No rest for the weary.)

Choosing courage over comfort is not for the faint of heart. Rumbling with vulnerability can feel uncomfortable because being courageous is vulnerable. Think about it: when you consider what it takes to be courageous – things like challenging status quo, speaking up in a meeting, or UNlearning racist behavior so we can practice anti-racism – these are vulnerable situations, right? Yes! There is no courage without vulnerability.

Perhaps the most important rumbles we have are with ourselves. Rumbles that challenge our narrative and our realities. Rumbles that help us move forward out of feeling stuck, alone and overwhelmed. My year-long rumble led me to this word: Help. The truth is I do work hard, and I have found the courage to admit, “I want help”. Both/and.

Tell me: What does the experience of being vulnerable feel like for you? What about courage? Where do you know you need some help but haven’t asked for it yet? What’s stopping you?

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