I remember when I lived in Brooklyn and was going to the Atlantic Center. I was approaching a set of doors and saw a woman ahead of me carrying bags. I hurried in front of her to get the door to open it for her. I’ll never forget her response. “Thank you. I’m so used to doing everything by myself.” “Me too,” I thought. And for the longest time, I had trouble asking for help. I was always willing to lend someone a hand, but it was very difficult to ask for one. But it’s time to start reaching out.
Many black women are so used to doing everything by themselves (often because they have to or believe they do), that going solo becomes the default behavior. And many black men either don’t want to look inadequate or simply don’t know where to turn for assistance. And some of us have been let down a lot by people who didn’t come through, so it feels easier to just do it ourselves. Whatever the reason, doing everything on your own and feeling burdened and isolated isn’t healthy. It’s also not necessary. There are people who are willing to help. The trick is finding the right people and accepting that you deserve support.
Asking for help can be hard. It involves vulnerability and vulnerability involves risk. Both can be uncomfortable and even scary. But sometimes we have to ask ourselves if the discomfort of carrying the load alone all the time outweighs the risk involved in asking for help and trusting the right people will show up. I think it’s a risk worth taking. You deserve support and you deserve to ask for it.
The next time you find yourself overwhelmed or overloaded, remember to give yourself the permission and space to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak, it only demonstrates that you are human.
As always, be well.