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We are hardwired to want to be independent, and if you ask any parent they will tell you that you can see that from a very young age, cue toddlers. They want to tie their own shoes, buckle their own seat belts, and do everything they can to be independent. It’s just human nature, and this behavior is encouraged, as it should be. We want our children to be independent, but something that is overlooked in our quest for independence is the ability to, when needed, ask for help.
In a recent study, by the Society for Research in Child Development, they found that children as young as 7 began to connect that asking for help in school meant looking incompetent in front of their peers. 7 years old. 7 years old and they are already worried about how they will look if they ask for help.
In addition to the innate need for independence, the world we live in today is changing. It is not the same world our parents and grandparents grew up in. Families move farther away from their hometowns, church attendance is down, and with that the traditional way most of us have found community in the past is gone. And this absence of community makes it even harder to ask for help. Where do we even go to ask for help? Who do we ask? And how do we get over this overwhelmingly uncomfortable feeling of asking for help?
When most of us sign up to volunteer with an organization, we don’t exactly see ourselves ever having to be on the receiving end, the ones asking for help. But what’s unique about Lasagna Love is that there isn’t one thing that defines a recipient. People request for all types of reasons, because a meal can mean so much more than just food. A home cooked meal could be going to someone battling loneliness or a mom who could just use a hand with dinner. The need is never the same, but there is always a need.
Volunteer turned recipient
I had the pleasure of speaking with a current volunteer, who also became a recipient. She is a lifelong volunteer of various organizations, who has always given back to her community. One of her favorite ways of spreading kindness is to leave kindness rocks around her community. Small, painted rocks that when found by others, bring a little bit of joy to their day. When COVID started and she discovered Lasagna Love, she knew that she wanted to be involved. During her first few deliveries, the families she was delivering to did not want to come out to meet her and there wasn’t much communication beyond scheduling the delivery. It felt odd but she didn’t think much of it.
Then 3 months ago, she got sick, and then her dog passed away, so what did she do? She reached out to her community in the easiest way she knew how. She requested a lasagna, and to say that this meal changed her life is an understatement. The day of the delivery came and when asked how she felt there were a lot of words thrown around. Shameful. Unworthy. Excited. Thankful.
“A complete stranger was dropping off a whole meal for us?! Who would do something like that?”
The delivery was a strange experience. In instances where she was the one doing the delivery, she felt slightly confused as to why people wouldn’t text back to say thank you. Why they might not want to run out and meet her. But being on the receiving end helped to put things into perspective. When you are in a position where you are asking for help, there are a lot of feelings. The asker is placing themselves in an extremely vulnerable position, and to ask for help is an extremely brave thing to do. It’s not easy to request help, and it is definitely not any easier to say thank you after receiving. Being on the receiving end of a delivery helped this volunteer see a multitude of things. She was able to experience the emotions that go along with asking for help. The feelings of unworthiness that might come up from requesting. But most of all this volunteer was able to truly see Lasagna Love from the eyes of a request and this completely changed her perspective on asking for help. She felt more connected to her community and that it was okay to ask for help at times. With Lasagna Love, you never know when you might be the one needing help.
Seeing things from a lens of empathy, can help us see a whole new perspective.
A “new normal”
Asking for help and the stigma around it is not something that has been regularly discussed in society, until COVID. This pandemic has turned all our daily lives upside down, and 2 years in we are at what most call a “new normal”. But what does that even mean? For us at Lasagna Love, our hope is that it means normalizing asking for help. Strengthening our relationships within our community, to where we all can feel a little bit more comfortable saying, “hey, I am struggling and could use some help.”