Asking for and Accepting Help

Although I am already three weeks behind schedule, my final project (a proposed 60 page thesis) is not looming over me with threats of missed deadlines and canceled graduation ceremonies—at least, not yet!

This week, I began to outline and flesh out one chapter, about accumulation and inheritance, both of which I am arguing are social problems to be fixed. So far, I have about eight pages of useable writing, and another eight pages of notes. I really struggled to write more, but I also struggled with asking for help. Because this is such an important piece of writing, I knew I couldn’t leave it for the last minute, and I would go crazy trying to make additions and revisions on my own.

So, I made an appointment at the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE). Normally, I go to the CWE when I think I am finished, or nearly finished, with a paper. I go through a lot of revisions, but the most substantial revisions are often made privately. Usually, no one gets to see my first draft. When I made an appointment to talk about the notes I had so far, up until the last few minutes I debated with myself about cancelling the appointment. I hovered the mouse over the “Cancel this Appointment” button countless times. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have enough to talk about, and what I did have was a pure mess.

It’s not that I am embarrassed about my writing, especially about first drafts, rather, it is more that I fear how others will judge me when they read something I haven’t finished yet. Will they think I am stupid, or foolish? Will they be thinking about how bad my writing is later, thinking that it could never improve enough to be readable? I don’t know. I’ll never know. And, I’m still wondering about it right now. But, I couldn’t let that fear of some judgment that may never  happen keep me from working on the most important project that I have right now.

My thesis (so far) was and still is a mess. But, I sat through the appointment and felt like a lot was accomplished. I had a stronger introduction, and clearer points (maybe they could even be called paragraphs!) than before I made the appointment. Sitting with someone else, talking about my writing, discussing my struggles and fears and successes, really did help take the edge off of the pressure that I am under to complete this project.

Asking for help is hard, and sometimes accepting that help is even harder. But in the end, it is probably better to have some support than to struggle through on your own, and then be uncertain when it is time to meet a deadline.

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1 Comment »

 
  • Vanessa says:

    This post made me feel so much better about how hopelessly behind schedule/unmotivated I feel. It’s nice to hear someone else is struggling–but also inspiring to see you unafraid to ask for help (and face the judgements that may–but really probably don’t–come along with it).

 

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