You may have seen this article last week about the family who called 911 from a corn maze. I shared it with friends not to make fun of this family, who had a toddler and newborn in tow. (My own personal meltdown with a newborn happened in a Sears, so I feel fortunate that I had no cell phone at the time. Can you imagine that 911 call?) I keep coming back to this part of the story: “Within a minute or so upon arrival, the police officer located the family. The family didn’t realize they had almost made their way out; they were just 25 feet from the street, (farm owner Bob) Connors said.”
We live in a time when it’s so easy to seek help, and I’ve wondered lately if it’s becoming too easy. At a recent social gathering one of us had that “tip of the tongue” moment where we couldn’t remember a name. Within seconds a handful of smart phones came to the rescue; name remembered, anecdote shared, end of story. Remember how just a few years ago our brains could “surf” like that? And we’d all make connections and tell stories until one of us came up with the forgotten name? I miss that.
If we get in the habit of seeking help so often, do we come to rely on it? Do we lose trust in our own abilities to figure things out? I think so. I love it when people ask me questions, but I find that lately I’m answering questions that are better answered by Google. I think this is a matter of trust: some of us have lost that sense that we can use the tools available to make choices and solve our own problems. We seek help from others even when the same tools and information are available to us.
I’ve written before about how hard it is for me to ask for help, and how different people are about asking for and giving help. I read the advice of business experts who talk about working through difficult things, encouraging people to keep going even when things feel hard. To ask for help in that environment can feel like giving up, or worse: failure.
And sometimes I think we avoid asking for help because we don’t want to look foolish. Here we are, wandering in our own personal corn mazes for hours (days? years?) instead of asking for help. I think it’s valuable to remember that help is always just 25 feet (a phone call, a holler) away, but that this unprecedented access to help also means more ways to help ourselves. Sometimes floundering around in that maze, feeling scared and tired and alone, is what you need to do to get where you’re going. And sometimes it’s just a waste of time. Trust yourself and your abilities and you’ll know the difference.
What do you think? Do you try to figure out everything yourself before asking for help, or do you send an SOS right away?