So I have this awesome idea but in order to get it up and moving, I need some help from my friends and family. The problem is, I’m afraid to ask for their support. Sound familiar? Let’s try and overcome this fear together.
A few weeks ago, I went for a walk with a friend of a good friend. Janice is the founder of Solo Traveler – a fantastic online community for people who enjoy travelling alone or aspire to doing so. In its early days, Solo Traveler was a humble blog, as humble as mine even. Now, it’s the well established online publication Janice envisioned when she wrote her first post. As a newcomer to the blogging scene, I’m in awe of all she’s accomplished, so I turned to her for as much blog-building advice as I could squeeze out of her over the course of a one-hour dog walk.
One piece of tried and tested advice she gave me was this: “Email your friends and family and ask them for support.” And she’s right. I need some help. The trouble is, I’m afraid to ask for it. That’s what brings me to writing today’s post and posing this question to you:
How good are you at asking for support?
I’m not talking about asking your neighbour to water your plants or pick up your mail while you’re away. That’s easy (at least, it is for me.) I’m talking about asking someone who knows you well to support a bigger endeavour; one that actually means something to you. Like a dream you want to pursue.
Let’s say you love baking. Every time you show up at a friend’s house for dinner with one of your home-baked desserts, everybody oohs and aahs. You start to tinker with the idea of selling your delicious edibles. For a while, it’s just a seed of an idea, but eventually it starts to consume you. Finally you decide, why not? You’re going for it. Now, you just need to find customers.
You have a massive mom network, a great group of friends and a large extended family. Sure, you’re comfortable casually dropping your new venture into conversation. You might even drop a post onto your Facebook page and hope they see it. But can you see yourself actually reaching out to them and asking for support versus dropping gentle hints that you’re open for business?
Would you, for example, consider taking Janice’s advice and emailing your personal network to ask for support? If the answer is yes, good for you. If the answer is no, I totally get it. Like Janice said, I need some help from my personal network but I haven’t reached out yet because I’m still trying to muster up the courage to ask.
How does one overcome the fear of asking?
The simplest way to overcome your fear of asking for support is to put things into perspective. You need help. If you ask for it, there are two possible outcomes. OK, so there may be more than two, but let’s just focus on the best and worst-case scenarios:
Outcome #1) Your friends and family give you tons of praise and encouragement. They start coming to you for birthday cakes and soon their friends start coming to you for birthday cakes, too. Your neighbour says her sister is a party planner and promises to introduce you. Your Aunty Liz says her 15-year-old is a whiz with technology and he can help you build a website. Your brother-in-law offers to take some great photos for you to share on social media. You see where I’m going with this …
Outcome #2) They all delete your email and pretend they never received it! Granted, this outcome won’t help you move your dreams forward, but it also won’t set them back.
Perhaps you think I’m over-simplifying this. Why, for example, have I failed to mention that asking friends and family for support essentially means drawing a massive amount of attention to yourself, which in turn means way more people witnessing your potential failure, which in turn means a whole lot of humiliation you could have spared yourself? (Can you tell I actually did give this a little thought?!) I’ll tell you why. Negative self-talk won’t do a damn thing for you. I know it. You know it. So let’s spare ourselves the turmoil. Instead…
Let’s accept our vulnerability and ask anyway.
And he’s right. Vulnerability is a beast, for all of us, not just artists. Behind every seemingly confident artist, baker, blogger, [fill in the blank] is someone who has ridden or is still riding that scary, hairy, big-fanged monster called vulnerability. But what’s the alternative? Leaving everything exactly as it is, which is perfectly ok – unless you’re seeking change, and I am.
A few nights ago, I started reading Brené Brown’s most recent book, Rising Strong. I had a hunch she’d have a few things to teach me about leaning into discomfort, and I was right. There, on page one, in the middle of the very first paragraph, she writes:
As a blogger, that’s exactly what I’m after. From the very depths of my soul, I feel the need to connect with others who, like me, find themselves questioning what they’re doing, where they’re going, what they’re thinking, and what others are thinking about what they’re doing, where they’re going, and what they’re thinking! Over-thinkers who know they need to slow down the conversations they’re having with themselves, get a handle on the negative self-talk, and just love themselves for who they are, without having to try so damn hard. That’s why I write posts like these. Yes, I’d love to make a living as The Wordy Mom, but first and foremost, I’m in it for the joy.
I need some help. What about you?
Whatever you’re pursuing, if you want to get any sense of love, belonging or joy out of it, you’re going to need to get comfortable with being vulnerable. You’re going to have to show up without any guarantees, and ask for help without expectations. So am I, which is why I’m making a commitment to myself right now to finally send out that email. Because at the end of the day, I’d rather risk being a blogger that no one likes than being a dreamer that never tried.
In this post, I explore some of the fears that arose upon realizing I need some help from my friends. Asking for help is difficult, but giving it is no easier. For more on that, check out How to be a true friend.