The Importance of Asking

Do you have a lot of things that you want to do in your life? I do, too. Do you sometimes need help? Me, too. The truth is that everyone needs help. And the other truth is that it’s ok to ask.

Lately I am learning the importance of asking for help. It’s necessary. And, as much as I worry about being a drain on other people, I think the truth is that people genuinely like to help each other. When I ask someone for help, I do it with the hope that someday I will have the honor of helping the person who helped me.

Lots of things are happening lately that I’m excited about. Almost all of these things required me to ask for help. On Tuesday I went to a studio a few hours away and worked on a music project for the day. I love recording music. It’s such a meditative and fulfilling process. I love collaborating with other artists. I love knowing that I’m making something. It’s just the best feeling. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

A few weeks ago, I had an idea for this music project. Instead of brushing it to the side because it was overwhelming to imagine how I could make it happen, I embraced the idea. I booked the studio time. And then I go to work figuring out how to get there.

I like to make things look easy. Like a lot of people, I don’t usually show the work and stress that goes into doing something. Often, I just show the shiny result. But, believe me, it is not always easy to get all the things done that I want to do. It’s not easy for most people. Don’t let social media fool you. My day in the studio, for instance, was not easy to arrange. But I made it a priority. First of all, the studio was four hours away. Here’s what I did to ge to the studio at noon: I left my house at 7am, dropped my oldest daughter off at pre-k, and then brought my one-year-old to a friends house before driving four hours in blissful solitude. That was the part that required asking. I love my friends. But it’s not always the easiest thing for me to ask other people for help. Before I asked my friend if she could watch my daughter, I considered taking my one-year-old with me to the studio and bringing a babysitter (Shawn was working that day so he wasn’t free). I thought maybe they could hang out in the lounge area of the studio while I worked.

That solution meant I wouldn’t have to ask anyone for help. I could pay a babysitter and be on my way. But the thought of that option caused me incredible stress. I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on my work with my daughter in the next room (possibly crying because she was with a stranger). And the thought of driving so far with an infant in the car was untenable. So I asked one of my closest friends if she’d take my little one for the day. And you know what? She said yes. She was happy to do it.

I was able to spend a very long day in the studio getting a lot of work done. And I enjoyed the drive. Quiet. Alone. Listening to my audiobook. I was so glad that I had asked.

The book I’m listening to is Amanda Palmer’s ‘The Art of Asking’ and it is blowing me away. I love this book. It’s really driving home to me the idea that vulnerability is a strength. Vulnerability is the opposite of weakness. She talks about how humanity is a net around every person, waiting to help. How there’s a cosmic circle of helping that anyone can be part of. The book also spends a lot of time soothing a doubt that I spend a lot of time agonizing over. It asserts emphatically over and over again – explicitly and implicitly- that artists are legitimate humans. That art work is valuable work. That artists deserve to be paid for their work. That being an artist is a ‘real job’, and, most of all, that it’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to ask.

It’s liberating and relieving to ask for help. It’s a reminder that you don’t have to do everything alone. It’s a reassurance that including other people makes the experience richer. It makes life richer.

My day in the studio is just one recent example of when I asked for help and it made my life better. On Friday, our record label’s video-creator is flying here from LA to spend the weekend with us so that we can make music videos and a million more things. Do you know how that came about? In part, because it was time for us to make a new music video and I felt overwhelmed by it. So I asked for help. And I am glad that I did. I already know that this weekend is going to be amazing. And I’ll write all about it for the next post. My final thought is that everyone is always learning, growing, and figuring things out. Even (maybe even especially) the people who look the most ‘successful’. I guarantee it. No one is an island. Everyone is just doing their best, working their hardest, and asking for help along the way.

Do you have any thoughts about asking for help? What stops you? When did you ask for help and feel glad that you did?