For some reason we tend to avoid asking for help. It is one of those things we are all guilty of doing. On multiple occasions when I needed help, I shied away from asking for it. The reasons vary situation to situation; sometimes we do not want to ask for help because it is an ego issue, other times we are just too ashamed to ask for it and sometimes there is no one to ask.
But if one is to pursue graduate studies and live the cursed life of a graduate student, not asking for help is a habit that needs to be gotten rid off as soon as possible. Because the harsh reality of life is, those of us in Grad School will spend most of our time asking our professors, colleagues and even friends to help us out with one thing or another simply because it is a learning process and it cannot work without seeking our answers to stuff we do not know. And this is a lesson I learned the hard way when I started out my first semester.
Having done pretty well in my professional career, I was convinced that I knew most of the things that I needed to know in order to manage my studies. I mean after all I had been working and the professional experience being more important that theoretical knowledge meant I would be just fine. And within 6 weeks I had my ass handed to me in all my courses. I was doing horrible at stupid assignments that I thought I knew, I was miserable in class discussions as I was trying to read up 300 pages per class for 3 classes a week and lastly I was trying to write without getting second opinions on it. After 6 weeks of this, I finally admitted to myself that I had to start asking for help from anyone who was willing to give it.
So I started an experiment. Every time I got stuck at anything, be it studies, life or even cooking, I would ask for help without wasting a second. The results to this approach were shocking. Firstly in my studies, the moment I started reaching out to my class mates for help, I realized all of us were in the same boat and the only reason they were doing better was because they all worked together and divided stuff up. That way everyone did a little bit and did it well. Everyone shared their work and got opinions on it. Assignments were done together so everyone had the same answers and if someone did not understand it, they were helped whole heartedly by everyone else.
On a personal level, the moment I started opening up to my friends and family about things, the amount of stress I had in my life practically halved over night. Not only was everyone happy to help out and support whatever I needed, they were glad that I was finally asking. This simple action improved my relations with my family, my friends and random new people I met along the way who were just happy to help just because I asked. And all this led to an amazing gradventure that people still refuse to believe actually happened.
In my ‘ask for help’ mode, I randomly tweeted Microsoft that, I am a poor grad student (Which I am), so how do they expect me to afford something like the Surface 2 which is like $ 500 but would be amazing for me as it would save me tons of money on printing papers. I forgot about the tweet as it was honestly nothing more than a joke. But something awesome happened… Microsoft actually replied. And not only did they reply, they gave me a gift card to buy a Surface 2. All I had to do was go to the Surface 2 launch, and I would become one of the first people to get my hands on the new device. Thinking ‘why not’ I actually went to the launch party, was handed a gift card to buy a Surface 2 and was even given a chance to get an autograph and a picture taken with Baseball Star Freddie Freeman. All this, because I asked!
Point I am trying to make is this, as we get older we become stubborn and that is a bad thing. We need to be able to ask for help as without that we cannot progress. So instead of being egotistical about things or shying away, just ask!