On Asking for Help

My mum said something to me the other day when I first mentioned my GoFundMe, and suggested she send it out to some of our (extensive) family. She said – not in an insulting tone – that asking for money like this would never occur to her because it’s basically begging, and that it’s shameful to ask for help when you need it. That got me wondering: why? Why is it shameful for a person who needs the help of those more successful than them to ask for it? Certainly I believe in working hard and doing for yourself, but I also believe that if you’re in trouble, it isn’t unreasonable to say, “Hey, you – I need help.” Everyone needs help once in a while, be it physical, emotional, or financial. We’re human – we’re not perfect.

I’m not sure how I developed this belief in asking for help. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been told since I was a kid that my parents or grandparents will help me if ever I need it. The problem arises of course when their raising of me conflicts with their own upbringing: it’s one thing to tell your kid they can ask you for help. It’s quite another for the kid to turn around and ask.

“Family will always be there for you. Except when you need them. It’s shameful to ask if you do.”

I like to think that I’ve been a generous person throughout my (albeit short) life. I give when I can, and what I can. I am there for those I love, and sometimes for those whom I hate. I am gentle and kind. I’m a hard worker. I try my best when it comes to any job I hold. Why, then, is it wrong for me, when I need help, to ask for it? I don’t ask for frivolous things, like a new TV or a fancy car. Those are things I want to earn. Things that are required, however, to build a successful future? Sometimes those things aren’t attainable. I’m not ashamed that right now, as I see bills pile up and unexpected expenses appear, I am willing to ask for help from people who might be able to provide it.

“Who makes that kind of money,” my mother asked me, “that they can just give you money?” This is the same woman that fumes regularly about the inequality of wealth in the world. Not everyone lives paycheque to paycheque. Some people have worked hard to reach a point where they are well-off enough to give when asked. Some people are simply willing to help out a friend in need, knowing that the friend would return the favour. Whichever it is, the kindness of people warms my heart. That we received any money at all for our fundraiser makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Asking for help of any kind is hard, and we are often judged harshly for it. We are expected to “man up” or “pull up our bootstraps” when maybe it’s not a lack of work ethic that’s holding us back, it’s just life being life. We can plan and save and hope and worry but when it comes right down to it, things happen that we can’t control, and we’re not always prepared to deal with them. Rather than struggling, why not reach out? We’re all in this together, after all.

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