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Week in Review: When It’s Time to Call for Help

When you know you’ve done your best and that your best isn’t going to be good enough, that’s when it’s time to call for help.

It’s a late on Monday; perhaps a little too late to link up with my favorite weekly linkup and reach many readers, especially considering that it’s two hours later on the east coast. But the theme for these week’s Week in Review is self care, and I think I have something important to share about self care this week.Week in ReviewThose of you who read the blog on a regular basis know that I’ve been having a rough couple of weeks. This time last Monday, I was barely holding it together what with the sheer amount of s*** I had to get done. And I could write a post about all the usual sorts of self-care I took through the week, making sure I got at least 7 hours of sleep each night, taking breaks for two spin classes and one yoga class, backing down from swing dance, even though I love it, to get through some work. Cooking and eating healthy food. Letting the blog world slip a little bit in order to take care of myself.dscn2085But I think writing a post that focuses on all that would be a partial untruth. Sure, all those things were super important in helping me keep my sanity and get through the week. But in the end, they weren’t the most important thing.

After screaming through the week, tearing through responsibilities, living minute to minute, I came to the weekend ready to dig a hole for myself and finish grading the 19 remaining projects I’d told my students I’d have back to them by Monday.dscn2086And my laptop broke.

Yup. On Friday morning, I was getting into my office. I had said down my bags and helmet to get out my keys and unlock the door. As I stepped back out to retrieve the last of my bags, however, the door started closing on me, and fearing that I’d be locked out of the office, I made a split-second decision and let my backpack drop–thunk!–onto the tile floor. My laptop kept working throughout the day but finally failed that evening.

At that point, I knew that all the working my ass off that had got me through the week was not going to be enough. I wasn’t going to get everything I needed to done without help.

So I called in the troupes. I called my parents numerous times and asked for advice on what to do. I went to Best Buy and accepted the help of a Geek Squad geek, who kindly listened to my hard drive with a stethoscope and declared it bad news bears. (The files could be recovered. Thank goodness.) And, for not the first time since I started this blog, I called in the assistance of my absolute hero of a boyfriend. He helped advise me about a new laptop to buy and spent the better part of Sunday setting it up while I tore through 13 papers in one day. By the end, I was sobbing and exhausted–but I had a working computer. And I was so so glad he was there.

On top of all of this, I also had to ask for understanding and forgiveness–from my roommate for a messy apartment, from my freshmen for papers returned at midnight.

I had to ask forgiveness, too, from my boyfriend; we had planned a hike up to the top of Horsetooth Rock for Sunday morning.dscn2103-2 We stuck with that plan, but I was stressed and got a little grouchy when he didn’t skidaddle up the mountain as fast as my panicked brain thought I wanted to. Why is it that we so often take our anxiety out on the people who are most dependably there for us?

In the end, we spent a good 15 minutes at the top looking out at the view over Fort Collins. And who knows? If we hadn’t taken that hike, maybe I would have been just as stressed, maybe even more stressed, having spent all morning staring at my computer screen.dscn2105Self care, I think, is about more than remembering to eat your veggies and taking a bath now and again. Self care, in my view, is about humility. It’s about being able to say: “I’m doing all that I can do. I have limits.” And sometimes that can mean something simple like taking a rest day from exercise or going for a walk rather than forcing yourself to study for 8 hours straight. To me this week, however, it’s meant being able to say, “Hey. I can’t do this by myself. I need to ask for help–big time help. And I’m going to have to set aside my pride to do it.”

Now that I’ve returned the first project of the semester to my freshmen, I’ve tried to emphasize that they, too, are welcome to come to me for help. Receiving your first grade on a college paper can be a humbling experience, and it’s sometimes the first time students realize that they might benefit from coming to my office hours. As a teacher, I don’t see it as a sign of weakness if a student comes to me and asks for feedback or to go back over a concept I taught in class. It’s a sign of humility and wisdom.dscn2120-2Did you go to your instructor’s office hours very often when you were in college?

When was the last time you had to ask for help?

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9 comments

  1. Hey there. I think it was a rough self care week for lots of us, at least in the traditional idea of self care. That being said, I believe asking for help is what truly matters. It’s much harder to do at times, although we all can benefit when we ask for help. I think you did an amazing job reaching out, even if you did take it out on the boyfriend while hiking, and I hope you remember help is always there the next time you find yourself in the weeds.

  2. Evangeline says:

    I’m really bad at asking for help. I don’t like having to rely on other people, but that’s such a prideful, foolish way to live. When life feels crazy tough, sometimes I have no choice, and in those moments, when I’m exhausted and anxious and the end of my tether, I’m reminded why God puts other humans in our lives. He puts them there for that exact purpose because he knows we can’t do it all on our own.

    Thank you for sharing this. It is always comforting to be reminded that self care is important and asking for help is a-ok.

    1. Joyce says:

      Thanks, Evangeline. One of the things I love about blogging is how the bloggers I love are really good at reminding each other how it’s okay to not be on top of everything all the time, how it’s okay to have moments of weakness, and yes, that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes.

  3. Joyce, I honestly think you probably practiced one of the strongest kinds of self-care this week. Asking others for help and forgiveness – also forgiving yourself! – are hard but doing so makes you a strong character. While I wish your week had been a lot less straining it looks like you really juiced those lemons in life. I’m not sure how I would have coped. Your boyfriend sounds like my best male friend who saved me through my last days of thesis writing years ago meaning: completely awesome.

    1. Joyce says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Miss Polkadot! Isn’t it a blessing to have a friend there to look out for you!

  4. Cora says:

    Diddo everything Miss Polkadot has said. You definitely stepped up to THE most important aspect of real self care. Rare, not easy to do, and a sure sign of strength my dear. If we don’t ask for help, we are just sabotaging our own worth and potential and everything we have to offer the world.
    I’m so sorry about your laptop. Ugh. Also, your boyfriend – and any of those who love us – see us in a different light then we see ourselves. They love us. Remember that 🙂

    1. Joyce says:

      I think that’s a good insight, that the people who love us see us in a different light than we see ourselves! I know it’s true of blogging–so often I read posts from other bloggers who’re down on themselves and I want to be like, “Hey! No way! You’re doing awesome!” 🙂

  5. Diane Wahto says:

    I got a little chuckle out of the twist and turns of your week. I knew about some of it, as I was staying with your folks when you had the computer disaster. I was really happy to hear you were able to recover your files.

    Something you said really hit home with me. I always enjoyed having students come by my office for help or just to talk. It was a way to get to know them better. And, of couse I understand the misery of grading a mountain of essays. That’s why I finally gave up teaching as an adjunct online after I retired. I could not bear to grade another essay.

    You’re lucky to have that boyfriend. It’s not unusual to have little conflicts when things get tense. Pat and I had what he calls our Venus-Mars moment this morning when we had to clean up the mess our old Collie left during the night. I thought I’d done a pretty good job of it at 4 a.m., but it didn’t suit him. Now he wants me to wake him up when I hear her walking around the house. I’ll gladly do that, believe me.

    You are doing great. Just remember, you’re only human and sometimes things do pile up.

    Love you. By the way, I won some awards at the Kansas Authors Club convention last weekend, and I also joined a bunch of poets who read our poems with a jazz orchestra improvising to our poems in the background. It was pretty amazing.

    1. Joyce says:

      I love teaching for the students and the joy and creativity that they bring. Not so much for the grading.
      Congrats on the KAC awards! I would have loved to have heard you read. 🙂

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