Vaster than empires

My daughter recently had a swimming gala. I was on poolside as I was helping to find swimmers for the races (‘I need to find Lauren, could you try really hard to be her?’). On her first race, she made a technical fault and was disqualified. She was utterly distraught. After around ten minutes of reassuring her that this was perfectly okay and that even top athletes experience this, she was still sobbing. I then took a step back, spoke to one of the other most amazing teachers, and she calmed her down within a few minutes. She went on to take three golds, it was a good evening. But for me, asking for help, and knowing when my presence was not making things any better felt really good. It was empowering to recognise that I cannot do everything.

It has taken me a very long to realise that. When we are children, much stuff is done for us, and as we grow we learn to become more self-sufficient. Some skills come easy to us, and others not so much. As a child I could easily create a camp out of furniture, sometimes camps that would cover my whole room. But being able to put my hair in a ponytail? Not until I was a teenager. Some things we are impassioned to know, to understand. Other things just seem like a chore.

I think it is also down to what other people will do for us. As a parent, it feels like such a delicate balance. Helping your child to develop with your assistance, and knowing when to step back and let them find their own way of doing things, their own flight. A few years ago I was choosing all of my daughter’s clothes each morning, and now she finds her own. Some of her choices are a bit mad, and this is awesome. It is also incredibly important as she ascends into adulthood.

One of the best gifts we can give our children is encouraging and enabling them to be confident and independent people. I read recently that children who share in the home chores are more likely to be successful adults. I don’t know whether this is true, but it feels that it could be. Understanding that some things take effort is an important skill to learn. We need to be able to achieve.

But understanding that we cannot do everything is just as important. No one can learn all the skills, all the crafts, all the everythings. But for some people, for me, I felt as if I had to. My mindset was I could not be totally successful unless I could do everything for myself because relying on others? That was a weakness. That was a failing I had that I felt compelled to improve. And if I couldn’t learn something? That made me feel low.

Learning to ask others for help, not just when I am desperate, has been something that I have really struggled to learn. But I am learning. People utilise my skills, I utilise the skills of others, and collectively, we all grow together. And realising that has been a new beginning.

Map Point. What skills do I share with others?




Certainty of spirit

Things that should be obvious.

  1. Good pain meds if you have a wisdom tooth removed. Especially with prolonged extraction and stitches (two).
  2. Left and right.
  3. Not wearing sandals when it rains.
  4. Not wearing socks, boots and jumpers when it’s sunny.
  5. Remembering to buy new shoes when old ones wear out. Or compensating with how you walk to account for the damaged shoes.

Many things in life appear to be straightforward. Some things are so amazingly simple, yet for some reason, I choose to make even the smallest task complex. It is definitely a skill. But when thinking about concepts and feelings, the waters can muddy.

It seems very natural to love people. We have our families and friends, people who we enjoy being close to, but at the same time, when I have felt sad or down in my life, this seems to be gloriously easy to forget. It’s as if the love we know we have from the people in our lives seems to evaporate, and although we are aware of their presence, it seems very far away, even if they are right next to us. But most obviously in my times of need, it would seem natural to seek out people who love us, rather than shutting off.

This is one of the biggest transitions that I feel I have made in my life. Learning to ask for help. It seems to be such an inconsequential thing, asking someone for a little of their time, but it can feel almost impossible. What if they are too busy? What if I am being overly needy? But what if by having someone help me, they actually feel empowered? Maybe with the same sense of contentment that I feel when I make someone’s smile a little brighter.

I think that both of these things have the same natural start point. Trust. Learning to trust myself was a hard journey. Knowing that I am capable and having confidence in my skills is one stage. For me, the other was knowing that the people in my life loved me very much and that if I needed help, then all I had to do was ask. They may grumble, but they wouldn’t let me down. It surprises me how far some people are prepared to go for just one person, how much love they have so ready to give. To me. Asking others for help has made me stronger, I see love projected.

  1. Not plunging foot into bath water from which intense steam is rising.

Map Point. Am I good at asking for help?