This is a love language for a lot of people. It provides a feeling of safety and security. It builds trust, not only for you the person asking, but for the party being asked as well. It lets your inner child know that they are loved and valued. It may look like a small thing at face value, but it holds so much significance.
Asking for help is a big task especially when you are not accustomed to it. It requires a level of vulnerability a lot of us are not comfortable with. I grew up in a small close-knit community from birth to 11/12. After that, I moved to the city to be with my mother and I was suddenly alone most of the time. She was a young single mother trying to make ends meet, so I don’t blame her for her absence. I had to quickly learn to navigate city life by myself. It took me forever to make friends in the city and part of it was because I was accustomed to life emakhaya, where my childhood bestie made friends for me. Shout out my Amber.
I would go to the shops alone. I would walk to school alone. After school, I would do my homework, fix myself lunch, watch YO TV, read a book and just be myself. For the most part, I enjoyed the solitude. I realise that for me to function optimally, I need quite a bit of alone time. On Saturdays, I would go to the library to loan 6 books for the coming week and that activity was fun for me. Eventually, I made friends in the city and my alone time was reduced significantly. Had Kamo not approached me at the park, I doubt I would have made friends in grade 6 and grade 7.
Sometimes, I would hide from my friends when they wanted us to go play. They’d knock and I’d be still, pretending not to be home. If they bumped into me by happenstance, on my way from whatever place of solitude I preferred, I would tell them I couldn’t play because I needed to be home for whatever reason.
Now that I am a fully fledged adult, trained in the battlefield of 2021 and a global pandemic, I can see how my formative years, particularly that period of moving from emakhaya to the city, affected my interpersonal relations with others. It created a rupture in my understanding of self in relation to community. Had I been my caregivers at the time, I would have approached this matter significantly differently. Perhaps communicating that I would move to the city and not find myself sengiqukuliwe, sengiyi city gworl ngingacelile would have eased the culture shock and this rupture in understanding of self in relation to community? I don’t know. I’m reflecting from the perspective of my 12 year old self, informed by the cognitive faculties of a fully fledged adult- thank you 2021.
You might be wondering what the opening line has to do with my reflections? Let’s get into it.
As a result of this rupture in understanding of self in relation to community, I tend to take on many things at once ngifike ngixakeke phambili. And when it’s time to ask for help, I will be riddled with anxiety, overthinking and imagining all the worst case scenarios possible. I really do torture myself, phew! In recent weeks, I have been reflecting on this chronic need to do everything alone and have come to this conclusion: IT’S IMPOSSIBLE, HLOENYA! It’s unsustainable. It’s not healthy. It only hurts you.
We need community. We cannot function alone. Vulnerability is difficult, but it’s okay. You will ask for help and sometimes it will be extended and at other times it will not be extended. And when people are unable to show up, do not take it as an affront to your vulnerability. Do not apply extremes to asking for help. Keep an open mind and know that help will come to you when you need it.
This blog post is so reminiscent of the Hermit and 6 of cups in tarot. There is a need to create balance between solitude, walking alone, etc. and belonging to a community. As we walk out of the battlefield that was 2021 and towards a 2022 we’re uncertain of, I hope we shed parts of ourselves that keep us bound to the lonely road. May our communities strengthen and may we gain confidence in asking our friends and family to walk with us. May ndicela undikhaphe be woven into the tapestries of our lives.
Lesedi bana ba thari e ntsho