Why You Should Ask for Help

Today I had to study for a test. I took my heavy bag to the campus Starbucks, plugged in my laptop, and prepared for a long and boring day at work. A guy came in about ten minutes after me and sat down at the chair beside me {I was working at a little bar in the coffee shop, so we were seated directly beside one another}.  Immediately after powering on his laptop and pulling out his notebooks, he began sighing loudly and sometimes even cursing quietly to himself.

I’m a tolerant person. But good lord, this guy was bugging the crap out of me. No one cares about how tough your homework is, or whatever you were working on. You’re an adult. You’re in college. Nobody is going to come over and offer to help, because guess what? Nobody even knows what you’re working on, they’re too busy being annoyed with the fact that you’re sitting in the middle of a crowded café and being loud and obnoxious.

There’s just a certain protocol I think people ought to adhere to in public settings. Turn your headphones to a reasonable volume. Nobody else wants to hear your music {seriously. No one.}. Don’t talk loudly on your phone, especially not in a restaurant, bathroom, etc. For the most part, this kind of stuff seems like common sense. Duh. But you’d be surprised.

I think the kid sitting beside me this morning was desperate for attention. Maybe he’s in the hardest class he’s ever taken. But this is real life. The adult world. Nobody is going to come over and magically solve your problems for you, and loudly sighing and getting frustrated is only going to get you kicked out of Starbucks when enough people go over to the manager and complain about you. Luckily, about ten minutes after arriving, he left, either out of frustration or because he was in a hurry off to class. I didn’t care, I was just glad to be rid of the nuisance.

What the whole thing made me think of was help. Why are we so desperate for it, yet terrified to ask anyone for the help we know we need? If the kid had looked at me, or said “excuse me, have you ever taken organic chemistry? I’m lost, and I’m looking for a little help,” I would have gladly looked at whatever he was so frustrated with. Sure, I may not have been any help if he was asking for help with his computer programming homework, but, at least he would have been making progress. Maybe the girl sitting on the other side of me was in the same class, working on the same thing, and instead of the guy getting frustrated and leaving after ten minutes, maybe if he had asked for help, he would have left a half hour later, feeling a thousand times better, understanding whatever was frustrating.

But instead we sigh and huff and puff and get annoyed with whatever problems we are faced with, and refuse to go to anyone who may be of some assistance. Is this stubbornness what adults are talking about when they refer to “our generation?” Surely generations of people have been hard-headed. But maybe after a certain age, you’re just more willing to ask those around you for help. After all, we’re the only ones in this crazy world, and we kind of have to help each other out.

So ask for help. Ask your friends. Ask your neighbors. Ask your mom and dad. Ask your girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever. Ask your roommate. Ask your best friend. Ask your teacher, professor, or boss. Ask a stranger in a coffee shop, because who knows? That stranger might be twenty times more helpful than anyone you know. The worst that can happen is a moment of awkwardness and you finding out that they’re just as useless at whatever you need help with as you are.

More soon.

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