As I sit here wishing I had the ingredients that I need to make chicken soup for my son (who is home sick from school today and too sick to be carted off to the supermarket), I find myself thinking – wouldn’t it be great if I could ask someone to pick up a chicken from the store and deliver it to me? Yes, sure there are delivery services I could use, but here in the UK I don’t know of any same-day services available – and I want the chicken now, not tomorrow.
I’m sure I could ask one of the many friends/acquaintances I have (mostly other moms at my son’s school) or even one of my neighbors, and the great majority of them would be more than happy to help me with this small task. The problem is that I can’t bring myself to ask. So, instead I’ll either drag my son to the store or get my husband to pick up a chicken on his way home from work – or just forego the chicken soup altogether.
I find myself wondering, why don’t I feel comfortable asking for help? I guess the answer is, because nobody ever asks me to do these types of things for them. It’s not typical or usual.
I realize, my life might be a little atypical. I am an American expat currently living in the suburbs of London – we’ve been living here for about a year and a half after a two and a half year stint outside of Geneva, a 2 year posting in Dubai and 5 years living in Vietnam. My son goes to an ‘International’ school where the average length of stay for each student is about 3 years. Most parents at the school do not have the benefit of extended family or long-term close friends living near and ‘local’ neighbors are sometimes hesitant to befriend us because they know we are not here for the long-term.
So, maybe this is just something specific to me and/or this particular ‘community’ of expats to which I belong – but I don’t think so. I think there are many people for whom asking for help is not something that comes naturally to them – it’s not part of the general culture. Today’s culture values independence, self-sufficiency and the like. So, it seems to me that people are struggling to appear that they can ‘do it all’ without help. Oh, yes – maybe some of us joke about how disorganized and frazzled we may be, but we still don’t ask for help.
Sometimes we offer help – “I could pick up your son if you are running late”, “let me know if you need anything”, “let me know if you need help setting up for the birthday party”, “I hope your son feels better soon, let me know if you need anything”, etc, etc. But very rarely do I ever hear someone actually accept an offer of help. Offering help is somehow easier than asking for help. In fact, I think people yearn to help as a way of building meaningful relationships. I love going over to a dinner party and working together to prepare the meal, set the table and clean up afterwords – it feels like such a nicer bonding experience than the typical show up, house is spotless, table is set, food is prepared, you are served and everyone makes idle chit-chat while the hosts refuse offers of help, try to trivialize the amount of work that went into the meal, and try to hide their exhaustion.
So, this again points to the purpose of helpgoat – to use social media to foster “real” relationships and promote the idea of asking for help and offering help. A major part of this is to promote the idea that asking for help is actually helping the world. Someone has to ask for help in order to give another person the opportunity to help. Giving someone the opportunity to help, is helping them to give their life purpose and meaning.
If you agree with the helpgoat philosophy, please follow us, share this, like us, etc. Together we can create a virtuous cycle of help and help each other, help the world!!