Dear Ivy: Help

My Dear Ivy,

I wrote in my last letter about how strong you are, even as young as you are.

I want to caution you, though, against a mistake I’ve made for most of my life – one that I have trouble with even to this day.

Being strong does not mean never asking for help.

If you’re anything like your dad (and there are already some indications that you might be in this area), you will find it tempting not to ask for help, even when you need it. But remember what I said in my earlier letters about expanding universes? You will encounter people throughout your life who have valuable perspectives on things you are doing, or seeking to do. Those perspectives can make your path toward your goal much easier. An extra pair of eyes . . . an extra mind . . . can often provide a perspective you never would have thought of on your own.

They can only do that, though, if you let them. It’s easy to try to go through life attempting to do everything on your own. But there are times when, if you do that, you end up “reinventing the wheel” . . . doing something incredibly difficult or time consuming, that someone else has already done.

My advice to you is this: take advantage of help when it is offered, and ask for it when you need it.

There is a word of caution that comes with this bit of advice: One of the insidious things about the world we live in is that there are some people who still believe that, simply because you are a girl, you need their help to succeed. I hope it’s a long time before you learn that there are people like this, but it’s unavoidable that eventually you will. There will be those in your life who don’t see your strength, who don’t see your self . . . who only see your femininity and assume that it means you are somehow less.

Their help, you do not need. Ultimately they’re not really out to help you. They’re out to make themselves feel bigger by trying to convince you – to convince themselves – that you need them. They will, at times, be very insistent. They will be very persuasive. And they will be very wrong.

As with many things in these letters, it will be up to you to discern which people are which. You’ll get it wrong sometimes, and that’s ok, too. But please don’t let the ill intentions of some discourage you from asking for help when it would genuinely benefit you. Don’t make the mistake I’ve made for much of my adult life, constantly trying to do everything for myself, and reinventing countless wheels along the way. There is some measure of strength in being able to “go it alone.” But there is a point at which that stops being strength, and dips into stubbornness.

Some stubbornness is fine (after all, it kind of runs in the family!). But don’t let it goad you into refusing help when it’s offered, or refusing to ask for it when it’s needed. It’s easy to miss opportunities to let someone help you – but it’s especially easy if you don’t even let yourself look for them. Don’t fall into that trap. Cultivate asking for help rather than reinventing wheels, and you will be free to invent and explore and discover new things, rather than the same things as those who came before you.

I love you.

Love,
~Dad

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