Accepting Help


Drawing by Alexis Hansen

Sarah Jenson and Hannah White

Many of us see accepting help – or, heaven forbid, asking for it – as a weakness.  Plenty
of us want to reach out and help people, yet when people want to help us, we turn them away,
thinking that we are far too independent to need help.  Perhaps the times we most need help are
the times we are most determined to refuse it.
When a girl is freezing half to death and a guy offers his jacket, the common response is,
“No, I’m fine.”  When we forgot lunch and our friends offer food, we say that we don’t need it,
despite not having eaten since seven in the morning.
When you failed a test and are crying in the hall, someone may ask if you’re okay, and
you tell them that you’re perfectly fine, even though you would love nothing more than to talk
about it.
Why do we think that it’s somehow polite to turn down help when we truly need it?
From trivial to serious things, we expect ourselves to be able to handle everything on our own.
Somewhere along the line, we stopped letting our moms patch up our scraped knees and decided
that we could deal with the pain instead.  We think that we’re being strong and independent by
refusing help, but our lives would be much easier if we were just humble enough to accept it.  In
reality, being humble takes more strength than being proud.  Everyone needs help sometimes,
and we have to learn that.
Accepting help isn’t the only issue.  We cannot bear the idea of asking for it.  In fact, we
have gotten so good at it that people don’t know when we need help, and then we won’t ask for
it.  We get into a vicious cycle: 1) we don’t ask for help, 2) we don’t get help, 3) we think no one
cares, 4) we don’t ask for help.  We don’t want to feel like a bother or make people feel obligated
to help us.
We don’t want to ask for help to carry all our books because we don’t want people to
think that we can’t handle it.  When we’re overwhelmed with life, we don’t want to ask to talk to
someone for fear of being a nuisance.
This idea of not being willing to be helped is more than just silliness – it’s feeding a
society where pride gets in the way of mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s not healthy to
try and make it through life alone. The outcome is to inevitably end up washed out, tired,
stressed, and feeling like a failure for not being able to handle our lives.
In school settings, it’s almost impossible to get by without help from teachers or study
groups.  Teachers don’t look down on us for not comprehending material; in fact, they want us to
ask questions so that we can find understanding.  English teacher Miss Fredrickson said, “When \
a student actually accepts help, it demonstrates a willingness to change, and I think that’s
important for learning.”
In addition to helping with academics, accepting help from others actually strengthens
relationships. The Online Psychology Degrees website said that one way to get people to like us
is to ask them for help. It makes us seem vulnerable, and therefore less arrogant and jerkish, and
it provides an opportunity for the other person to help, which is something that many people like
to do.
We need to realize that being vulnerable is not the same as being weak. There’s nothing
needy or whiny about opening up to help. It takes strength to decide that you need support.
It is not a failing to need help.  All of us need it at some point.  Nobody can handle
everything on their own.  There’s not a soul alive that isn’t going through something hard;
there’s not a soul alive that doesn’t need help sometimes. It is time for us to lay down our pride
and accept help from the people who genuinely want to give it.