There was a time in my life when I mistakenly believed that asking for help was a sign of weakness, of not being able to cope, of not being in control. If it had to be done, I had to do it. If there wasn’t enough time in the working day to do everything I had to do, I’d sacrifice my sleep. And if you know me at all, you’ll know how much I need my sleep. Those were bad years. Nightmare years. Stressful years. Thankfully I discovered that asking for help is more selfless than selfish in that it gives others the opportunity to give of themselves, of their talents, of their time. I liked helping others so why should they not like helping me? How did I miss that part? Asking for help when I need it still doesn’t come easy, but it’s now something I can, and do, do, and far more often, too.
We’re embarking on a new project. I needed a video of the site. The talented SC was planning to visit the village while we were gone so I asked him to do what he does well, him being a filmmaker and all. Result. My mate LB loves to sew. She was visiting recently from the States. The seats on my kitchen chairs were embarrassing, held together with glue and sellotape. They needed to be recovered. I asked if she’d help and she was happy to oblige.
Okay. So what? Why is this so amazing, you might ask. The difference that I’ve had to grow into is that now I don’t feel beholden or obligated to either of them. Before the penny dropped, I’d have been racking my brain how to pay back the favours. I used to keep a mental balance sheet of favours out and favours in, always trying to make sure that I wasn’t in debt to anyone. But in the grand scheme of things, paying forward is perhaps better than paying back. Doing something nice just because you can rather than because you expect something in return is much less stressful (although in fairness the expectation was often imaginary rather than real, my own projections). Doing something nice just because you can eliminates the resentment that could build up when the balance has been disturbed. I wish I’d learned this years ago.
I’ve found though that paying more attention to what my friends are good at (and filing these talents for future reference just in case the need ever arises) has given me a better appreciation of the talent that’s around me.
I bake. I bake basic cakes. I don’t have the patience to prettify them or turn them into works of art. But the lovely AT has that innate designer thing going on that makes her cakes stand out. Small details make things memorable.
Last year, the inimitable EK knit me a throw. The colours match the room I sit in most often. It’s warm and comfy and safe. A lot of time and love went into making it. As the summer turns to autumn and the evenings get cooler, it’ll be in daily use, which is what prompted this reflection.
Video. Cushions. Cake. Throw. All things made not bought. Each one a testimony to talent and thought. And these are just a few examples. How grateful I am indeed for the talent around me.