I’m tired of seeing other women afraid to ask for help, believing instead they must shoulder the world themselves, to manage alone. I’m sick of hearing other women being called “bossy” when they delegate responsibilities to others, aka ask for help. I’m over the straight jacket society has wound us into, every step a misstep, tripping headlong into the abyss of endless expectations.
I want to see us reject the perceptions of others, to forge ahead together, to help each other and urge each other to accept help. Our ability to move forward as a gender in a positive, sustainable way requires it. When I see a colleague with her arms full, I want her to hand me something when I step forward and offer. I want to hand someone something when they do the same.
Perhaps the two most damaging words a woman can utter are “I’m fine”. Why such a premium placed on being fine, on having it handled, on our shit being together, on needing no one and nothing? How is this a workable, healthy life?
“I’m fine” is making us sick. It’s making us tired. Depressed. Anxious. Miserable. Isolated. Weak. Untouchable.
I have seen a woman shut up in her house for days with severe flu text “I’m fine” when she desperately needed groceries, the trash taken out, litter box cleaned, companionship. I have heard a woman say, “I’m fine” after an emotionally devastating interaction with a family member. A woman receives a cancer diagnosis, gets in a car accident, breaks her leg, loses her house, goes hungry, has her heart broken…and says, “I’m fine”.
Perhaps there are times we are pretty fucking far from fine, nor should we be anywhere near it. But we’ve been conditioned to believe we carry on, that we never show weakness. We must believe we’re in it alone, for these ideas to perpetuate.
I believe women are tremendously capable, and manage extraordinary amounts of responsibility, tolerate harrowing levels of pain. Truly, most men are reduced to boys in the measure of our abilities. And as a result, we are never allowed to go down a level. We are never to show we might have a need, require a hand, or gesture of comfort. Not to society, and especially not to each other.
It starts with us. We have to show up for each other, while being honest about our circumstances. We have to try out saying, “I’m not OK” when we’re hurt or struggling. We have to say, “yes please” when someone offers to help. And most of all, we have to stop thinking that needing help is of which to be ashamed, or for which to shame others.
When I hear women calling other women martyr or bossy, I’m going to start challenging the labels they’re placing, rejecting this type of woman-on-woman violence. I’m going to ask what they’ve done lately to help the perceived martyr. I’ve already used Sheryl Sandberg’s re-brand of bossy to “leadership abilities” each time I’ve heard that word. And when I see a woman struggling with something, I’m going to quietly lend a hand, without asking. When a woman delegates something to me, I’m going to respond positively, and get right to work.
Society, take note! We reject your constraints, and we stand together, helping each other get through. We’re not fine.