To ask for help one more time or not?

Asking on Themba Jay
Image credit: Tshepo FPS | Instagram: @Tshepo_FPS

Have you ever reached an emotional and financial low point in your life that asking for help one more time seemed like it could kill you? (Because you’ve done it so many times it’s sickening.)

I have.

Now, even though you often have the warm assurance that you can always holler when you need assistance, it doesn’t make it any easier.

A thought that’s crept into my mind makes me chuckle.

I am just not certain whether because it is truly amusing or it is out of one being slightly unnerved thinking about it. But it is rather funny in hindsight being at a crossroads and head splitting point of deciding whether to shout for assistance or suffer in silence because it feels like you are on overdraft. Diligently gnawing away at the Bank of Kindness that has been provided to you by loved ones.

And in my case, after having decided to ask for one more favour, my body ached and became numb with shame that was difficult to overcome. Feelings of inadequacy engulfed me and became my default state — instead of confidence.

There’s a brilliant article written by Maria Popova about the very subject of being okay with receiving. It is appropriately titled, “Amanda Palmer on the Art of Asking and What Thoreau Teaches Us about Accepting Love”. She goes on to detail how we feel inadequate telling the world one thing through our work or in the conversations we have with others — it might be promoting the idea of people being the best version of themselves — and accepting bread from a friend because we are starving.

I remember situations when any amount of airtime or internet data were a luxury. When a mere 20 megabytes stood between a job application being sent through or not. Even when it was submitted, how was I going to know they replied? How was I going to get to Sandton or wherever else in the event of a call to an interview? In the event of being hired?

So it followed that my name became synonymous with, “May you please help me out with…?”

That period deeply scarred me.

I then cannot begin to imagine people who live and sleep on the streets and can only eat from begging and dirt bins. Or, the people among us in our communities who hang out and laugh with us during the day while they have no idea what they are going to eat when the sun dips. The kids with one pair of shoes, and because of this, after school they have to walk barefoot. The mothers who cry in tandem with their children — with the kid crying because of hunger and the mom, out of not knowing what to provide.

It has gotten to a point where my heart shatters to a million pieces every single time I see a school kid with a shoe that exposes their toes. My mind often races back into their homes — how is the situation back there? It has become who I am to walk in other people’s shoes and at least, if I can’t help them, understand their plight.

An excerpt from Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking, goes: “Taking the donuts is hard for a lot of people. It’s not the act of taking that’s so difficult, it’s more the fear of what other people are going to think when they see us slaving away at our manuscript about the pure transcendence of nature and the importance of self-reliance and simplicity. While munching on someone else’s donut. Maybe it comes back to that same old issue: we just can’t see what we do as important enough to merit the help, the love.”

Maria Popova then observed: The magical thing that happens when we choose to give and when we let ourselves receive is that we step into a widening circle of seeing.

I suppose this thinking argues that we hone the ability deal with being given donuts by other people when we cannot buy our own.

So, to ask for help or … ?