Do not shy away from help

by Xypher Pino

From the origin of our species to the development of the first tribes, to the establishment of civilizations and the world we live in today, humans have always been together. Without communication and assisting one another, our species will not be as technologically and intellectually advanced as we are now. In fact, this same concept can be applied to every living animal on this planet. Whether we are looking at the complexity of bee colonies or the tight-knit hierarchical systems of wolf packs, a pattern of teamwork is always seen. This brings me to my point – we must not shy away from help. We are social creatures – we were made to exist with one another and to be there for one another. Despite this though, there is still a social stigma attached to those that get help. I am here to investigate this issue and why people, myself included, have hesitancy in inquiring help.

“People do not want to be vulnerable. People do not want to seem like they might have something wrong with them. If people can realize that everyone has something wrong with themselves, if people can realize that everyone has things that they are going through that they need help with, then that will be wonderful. Getting help is a not a sign of weakness but the fear of vulnerability is definitely something that always follows those that think about getting help,” said Rachel LaVette, counseling intern of Greensboro College’s counseling services. 

LaVette brings up a great point – vulnerability and the fear of inferiority. No matter your race, your gender or your socioeconomic status – everyone cares about how they are perceived by others. Some say that they only worry about their own thoughts and opinions about themselves. In my opinion, these statements are factually incorrect as one could argue that the sole reason as to why we are pursuing the biggest things in life and making the decisions we make is because we are trying to change the perception of others towards ourselves. Whether you are deciding to go to the gym, to go study and do your homework or even something as simple as going to sleep, you can make the case that one’s decision-making always has the perception of others in mind. Even if “not caring about anything but yourself” might hold some validity, doing so is much easier said than done. This is especially true for individuals who tend to overthink and experience social anxiety due to the fear of judgement.

Studies over the years have shown that the number one reason as to why people refuse to seek and receive help is due to fear and shame. There is such a negative stigma surrounding the idea of help as most have attached help with vulnerability. Those who have mental illnesses are afraid of being judged if they decide to seek help, yet they are also judged for their inability to fit the norms of society because of their illness. As LaVette said, if we could truly realize that no one is perfect and that we all have our own difficulties that we are facing, then the idea of help being a sign of weakness can be eliminated.

The idea of seeking and receiving help being a sign of weakness to others is laughable to me. If anything, it is a sign of strength. Being able to recognize that you have areas that you need to improve on is something that not a lot of people are able to do. Whether it is pride-related, pure stubbornness or any other reason, many are unable to realize that you have to be uncomfortable to be comfortable. Also, having the willpower to be able to deal with said uncomfortability and being able to take this challenge head-on is another difficult thing that a lot of people struggle with. The emotions that come with the recognition of improvement are complicated. Each person experiences different emotions and faces these emotions in different ways. One might feel sadness while another might feel doubt. One might face that doubtfulness by pushing through and taking the steps towards improvement while another might mope and run away from the problem. The latter goes back to the idea of being afraid of help – whether seeking or receiving it. If we can shift the mindset that we have towards help from being a sign of weakness to a sign of strength, we will see monumental improvements from across the board.

Another contributing factor as to why many hesitate in acquiring help are standards and expectations. We always want others to think highly of us and we want to present ourselves in the best way possible no matter what situation. Everyone has this mindset, whether intentionally or unintentionally, consciously or unconsciously. In today’s society, it is almost impossible to not have this line of thinking due to social media controlling our whole world. Anything and everything can now be posted on social media. Also, we always see major success stories on the internet and we end up unrealistically comparing ourselves towards them, whether in a positive or negative way. All of these things force us to place ourselves into such high standards and put unnecessary expectations onto ourselves, reinforcing the idea of seeking help as a sign of vulnerability.

Without a doubt, I am guilty of this. After my time here at GC, I am planning to attend medical school and pursue a career as a physician. Due to the nature of my profession and the difficult path that I have ahead of me, I constantly push myself to the limits and have applied a perfectionist mindset towards everything that I do. I do all of this because I am anxious of failure. At a very young age, my parents have always expected me to become a highly successful doctor – I cannot imagine the disappointment that my parents will have if I do not reach these goals. Not only that, I also cannot imagine how they will perceive me if they find out that I failed to achieve my goal. Because of this high standard that I have placed onto myself, not only do I now have immense pressure to succeed, but I also find it hard to receive help from others because I cannot help but down myself when asking for help, as I now have this thought that others expect me to be knowledgeable in everything because of my aspirations and the time I put in to achieve my goals.

As mentioned earlier, the emotions that one feels when in the process of receiving help are extremely hard. Tackling these difficulties by yourself can intensify these problems even more. Luckily, there are many resources available out there, both on-campus and off-campus, that can assist in these issues. For on-campus assistance, you can look at the free counseling services that Greensboro College offers to all students. Speaking from personal experience, attending counseling is one of the best things that you could do for yourself. Also, the campus offers many academic support services at the PEAK, which is located on the third floor of Main Building. 

Again, do not think of receiving counseling or academic support as a sign of weakness, see it as a sign of strength and willpower. Going back to the beginning, it is biologically wired within us to always work and assist one another – nothing will ever change that. Never hesitate to seek and receive help and do not judge those who are struggling. Instead, offer a helping hand because that is what we were made for.

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