Updated: Feb 21, 2021
On my way out a couple of weeks ago, I saw a friend in the lobby with lots of boxes. She told me that she was on her way to the post office. With the number of boxes that she had to carry, I knew it would not be easy.
I offered my help, but she refused. I asked her whether she was sure about that because there were lots of boxes. I also saw that she had a small trolley, but I presumed it would be easier if she had an extra pair of hands, as the boxes could easily tip over. Still, she refused my second offer, so I decided to let her be and go about my business.
This friend reminds me of a lesson that I learned a long time ago. When I was a child, my mom told me to be independent, that we should do things ourselves without troubling other people. My parents also taught me that it is better to be on the side of giving help rather than asking for help. Because of this upbringing, I rarely asked for help because I regarded asking for help as showing that I was incapable of looking after myself.
But then, one day, I decided to leave my marital home and live by myself. In the process, I discovered a different aspect of living in Hong Kong that I did not know about. This forced me to learn to ask for help, which was not easy. I felt that I was such a failure. I felt so inadequate and useless when, for instance, I asked my friend to teach me how to fill in my tax return.
However, I also noticed that most of my friends were delighted that I reached out to them for help. It gave us a chance to connect at a deeper level—not to mention that it made my life easier. Since then, I have not judged myself if I needed help, as receiving help allows me to engage and forge a closer relationship with others.
So, a note to my younger self is: Ask for help if you need to. Do what is required at that moment. What if asking for and receiving other people’s support is a gift for both of us?
Devi is graduated from HKU LLM. Human Rights Programme. She is a qualified coach and facilitator under the Dream Builder Programme of Mary Morissey and Access Consciousness.