I sent out a tweet I feel I should explain, because 140 characters just doesn’t do this topic justice.
“If someone with a disability needs help they’ll tell you & how. DON’T tell them what they need to do & how. That’s the worst thing to do.”
I should also mention that after I clicked “tweet” I realized the last part should be, “That’s not help,” but you live and learn.
I’ll attempt to keep this somewhat vague yet relevant since it does apply to several life areas, even if it basically falls into one of mine almost exclusively.
Growing up I always had help. I didn’t always need it, it wasn’t always given, but it was always there. In a lot of ways, I feel like my childhood was idea for an individual in my position. (I also had very few people to compare myself to before the age of 5 which I think also helped, but not really the point here)
More often than not someone could be heard saying, “She doesn’t need help, she’s got it,” or something to that effect.
People may have had doubts, but they were rarely voiced in my presence. And if they were, they were quickly shot down. I can only see now how helpful that in fact was for my wellbeing.
Somewhere into my late teens/early 20s the help changed. The pontificating started and has only increased. I may be sensitive to it, but that doesn’t mean it should be there as often as it should be.
It started in college. At the time I was attending a cousin’s alma mater, as I had planned, when he called me. We talked about life on campus, particularly dorm life, considering he lived in the same building a few years before. I had heard about the parties for years, particularly the rugby thrown ones, now he was telling me not to go. Was I a little disappointed? Maybe. I knew with age came wisdom so I took his advice, although not to the extent I think he was hoping for.
Upon graduation things took on a different intensity. It happens when you pick a career field people enjoy from a certain distance but few understand fully, no career services does not always live up to their name.
Now that I’m a not-so-new graduate things are different, yet the same. Most have established lives by now. Others are still free spirits. One group tends to “help” the other, whether they want it or not. (I’ll let you guess who)
A lot of discussions tend to take the same path, although well meaning, it’s often torture. You can tell where it’s going 2 lines in and you’re dying for a quick getaway, but you’re yet to find one, somehow.
I have to ask myself, “Did I do too good of a job proving that I’m pretty average? Why can’t people see that this is different for me?” not the heaviest of questions by far, but valid for sure.
I try to keep up the act but one day I had my fill. I had to point out that this wasn’t one of those times when a cute pep talk could straighten me out and pull me through the situation. I needed help, not advice. Help. Telling and helping really are two different things.
When someone tells you they need help ask how you can help them. It probably took a lot to even ask for help because honestly who really wants help. It’s like admitting weakness. To admit you need help you need to come to a point when you realize admitting your weakness might actually work out for the best. To turn that around on someone is at times just cruel, not to mention a break in trust someone had in you. Speaking for myself, I don’t ask for help from someone I don’t trust on some level, no matter how badly I need it (I have plenty of scars from bumps and bruises to prove it).
Help comes in different forms. I don’t like knowing I’ll need a lot of help from others, or at least I like to think that way, so I try and avoid it as much as possible. And if I do end up needing help I try to tell people I trust and I know they don’t usually mind it, and if they do they’ll be honest about it.
Ask how. Don’t tell how. In all likelihood someone’s put more thought into it than you realize. Attempting to think you know better, and then actually saying it, you may as well spit on them or slap them in the face. Not only are you not helping, you’re making someone wish they never asked in the first place.
Who wants to live in a world where no one wants to ask for help for the simple fear of being disappointed? Certainly not me, and I’m someone that needs some help from time to time (but find someone who doesn’t).
*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on November 3, 2011