When I was very little, think primary school, I rarely spoke up during class. Apparently it was pretty noticeable, because it almost always came up during parent-teacher conferences. “She’s doing very well but she’s not asking enough questions,” my teachers would say. I remember being confused by this. Most of the time I didn’t ask questions because I figured out the answers on my own. I remember one example where we were dehydrating grapes to make raisins, and the kids had to make this little scoop thing out of cardstock. You know how you can have a flat diagram of a shape that you cut out and fold into a 3D object? It was like that. Most of the kids couldn’t visualize how to put the scoop together, but I could straight away and just did it. My teacher came around to me, wondering why I was just sitting there quietly, thinking I must be stuck or something. But no. I was just done and I was waiting for everyone else to finish. Other times, I didn’t ask because I was indeed stuck, and that made me afraid and embarrassed to ask for help. I remember that happening when we were studying clouds. Our assignment was to write a poem describing the characteristics of a particular cloud type, but we had to write it as if we were personifying the cloud. Catch was, we weren’t allowed to use the word “am.” I didn’t get it. I sat there the whole time trying to figure out how to write these things without saying “am.” I had all the facts but I didn’t understand the sentence structure. (I think the point was to write something like “I float in the sky” vs “I am floating in the sky”, but I don’t remember.) Anyway, I ended up getting really frustrated and not being able to finish the assignment on time because I was too embarrassed to ask for help.
I’ve always left asking for help as a last resort. When I was younger I had several experiences like the cloud poem, where I was just too stubborn seek help. I wanted to figure things out for myself, even if that process ended up being detrimental. Since then, I’ve matured a lot and I know when I’ve reached my limit. I know when I should just ask someone for help so I don’t get frustrated and I don’t waste time. I’ve learned that asking for help is just utilizing your resources, although I still try to exhaust all other resources first. I suppose my philosophy is that whatever I’m seeking probably exists out there for me to find without bothering someone else about it.
I try to cater to people who think like I do. For example, I have a FAQ linked on my profile. You know how often people ask me what my ethnicity is? I put the answer to this in my FAQ because I think people will actually read it. I believe people have the awareness and patience to look through my profile before asking me something that’s probably been asked before. If you’re like me, you spend a good deal of time neatly organizing resources for your followers to prevent repeated questions like this, so it’s disheartening when they don’t get used. Of course, no one reads profiles, and people are especially deterred from clicking through links where they have to read more stuff. So I can understand how people think asking me directly is the quicker route to the answer. A slightly different example is when people ask me where I get my lingerie from. I’ll inevitably get a handful of people asking whenever I post a picture, but do they bother to scroll through the comments to see that I’ve already answered the question? Nope. Maybe it’s too much work to do a little investigation themselves. Or perhaps it’s just a difference in priorities. I feel like I’m doing something wrong if I jump straight to asking without doing my research, but maybe other people don’t get hung up on that.
Maybe it’s the programmer in me that gets frustrated with this. I spend a lot of time figuring out how things work and why things are the way they are. I don’t know everything, I just know how to find the answers. I know how to navigate through my resources really efficiently. I know I have to start somewhere and just work through until I find the solution. The bane of every techy person’s existence is having to Google stuff for people because they don’t have any clue where to start when they have a problem. Here’s an example of a conversation I frequently have with my parents:
“Can you help fix the printer? It’s broken.”
“Well I don’t know what’s wrong, did you try Googling it?”
“No, what would I search for?”
“How about, help my printer is broken ?”
I have the same facepalm-worthy reaction when people ask me where I got my lingerie from without at least looking through the other comments first. Like, did you even try to figure it out yourself first? Did you consider what information might already be available to you? I absolutely understand asking me when you don’t see the answer after doing a little research, but sometimes the answer is RIGHT THERE.