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When You are Stuck

April 9, 2018
Another Way for week of April 6, 2018

My dear sister hamming it up in the role of “dunce” at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement school we toured in north Florida several years ago.

When You are Stuck

Most of us have had to work on something that was slow, frustrating, and just plain difficult. Whether at home or work, whether young or old, whether because of something you did or no fault of your own, you labor on.

You know you can’t give up because it is your job to get it done.

I was in that kind of stuck place a couple of weeks ago at work with a major project. The details are too hard to explain on paper, but the point is the same.

Why didn’t I ask for help?

At my age, you don’t want people at work to start wondering if you are still competent for your job, and productive. But if we are younger and new on a job, we are particularly apt not to want to ask for help—even though that is when we need the most help.

For me, it was hating to admit that the technology had me bamboozled. I looked for solutions online but couldn’t quite get to the bottom of my problem.

It didn’t help that I was not only snowed at work, but at home as well. Income tax deadlines and paperwork were looming. My list of to-do’s was daunting, and depressing.

Finally, I asked a colleague to whom I would pass the project next, for some pointers. Another colleague overheard our conversation and she pointed to just the tool I needed on the computer. If you use Microsoft Word, it’s called “Clear all formatting;” it looks like a little eraser, but it had disappeared from my tool bar because I never used it. But it did the trick very nicely. I wanted to cry or shout halleluiah, I wasn’t sure which. It was then I realized what a heavy load it had become on my psyche.

There are lots of reasons we’re slow to ask for help. We don’t want to be considered incompetent, a time suck, a freeloader, or annoying. Some people may have the opposite problem and indeed lean on others too often. I’m more of an introvert, and enjoy working alone; my husband on the other hand loves working with someone to bounce ideas off of all the time.

When our offices moved four months ago, I observed others—much younger, and guys too—struggling with aspects of our technology hook ups that surprised me. We had gotten a new phone system, different servers (for the computers), new online storage of documents and photos, and migrated our email accounts—all of which amounted to a lot of change and stress. It made me feel better to know others were needing help figuring things out as well.

 Becca J.R. Lachman is the recent author of a helpful six-week group Bible study called Upside-Down Living: Technology. She does not address the kind of technology problem I was having, but notes that we all need help at times, and also that, as she says, “I need community and accountability … so that possibilities like sharing libraries (where members loan out their items instead of buying their own), and time exchanges (where members contribute their talents and resources in equal exchange for needed services and resources without exchanging money), feel not only doable, but preferable” (published by MennoMedia, 2017).

In doing a little more research about why I was so reluctant to ask for help, I learned that introverts generally have a harder time asking for help than extroverts. That was a bit of a revelation. Not wanting to feel like a burden is definitely something I can relate to. Another blogger/writer who focuses on introverts, Andy Mort, says we think “Bringing other people into [the issue] will take energy; explaining things, answering questions … all deplete energy reserves. So asking for help, especially right away, becomes an overwhelming concept” (from Try a Google search such as “Why we don’t like to ask for help” and you’ll find additional ideas! Or check with a friend for their perspective.

Perhaps the best thing this frustration and experience taught me (besides finding that nifty eraser tool) was that it’s okay to ask for help, and others likely won’t think you’re a freeloader, annoying, or hopeless, unless it happens all the time.


I would love to hear your views, or your stories and experiences around asking for help. Send to me at or Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22850.

 Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.


Ironically, more tech problems–and deadlines–prevented me from posting last week.  


How do you feel about asking for help? Are you quick to do so, or slow? Why? 

Tips for others with similar problems?


  1. Great post. I shared it on FB. It’s a fine balance between bugging folks and simply asking for help. Looking forward to reading Becca’s book.

    • Thanks for finding this AND commenting, Greta! And super that you shared it. Yes, it is a fine line; I’m finding myself more willing to ask and pay for help. Just this past Monday, after having to buy a new laptop and not being able to get it all set up and encountering a weird error message, I hired a geek to fix it. Well worth the $20 in frustration saved. BTW, Becca’s book is designed as a discussion study for groups. Good luck!

      • I’m enjoying your posts. Becca and her hubby stay with us when they come to Mennonite Arts Weekend in Cincinnati.

      • Well, cool. Obviously I didn’t know your special connection to Becca. Thanks.

  2. I totally get your frustration with handling technology (and I too am much younger than you) and your introvertish reluctance to ask for help. Great thoughts. Thank you for the post.

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