Bookish

Help!

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Recently, lovely Kelly @ Another Book in the Wall wrote an interesting post entitled ‘Is Chivalry Dying in Books’.

This particular line of hers: ‘There’s no shame in a protagonist having to rely on others for support, regardless of their company’s sex’ really resonated with me and got me thinking.

You see, if you are a little bit like me, you may be more than happy to help others but may find it quite difficult to ask for help.

Asking for help makes me vulnerable. I am exposed when I admit that I can’t do it alone. I cannot predict or control the outcome whilst being vulnerable – I don’t know how I am going to be perceived. My ego hates it. But equally when I am being vulnerable, I create connections with others. Something my heart craves. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my inner turmoil! 😉

Back to my original thought before I digress too much. There tend to be two extremes in books:

  • Characters waiting for their heroes / heroines to rescue them.
  • Kick-ass heroes / heroines that just like to do everything alone and don’t need or ask for help.

I know I’m generalising and that it is not always true. It’s just I have read plenty of books that had one or the other of those two themes.

But then there is also the ‘I need help, but I don’t know how to ask for it’ example.

Let’s have a look at the J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.

In the movie version of the book, Frodo says: “I’ll take the Ring, though I do not know the way”. He is hinting he needs help, but he doesn’t ask for it directly.

Side note: this is when I usually start crying whilst watching this movie…

Frodo is this gentle and brave hobbit, who wants to help others but finds it difficult to ask for help directly.

And trust me, he is not the only one.

The problem with not being able to ask for help is that others may not know you need it. The amount of times I nearly held a grudge because somebody clearly did not read my mind! 😊😊😊

I think ‘asking for help’ is being more represented in children’s books. Fortunately children don’t see asking for help as weakness. Maybe that’s why I love so many children’s books as they are full of possibilities adults no longer believe.

I agree with Kelly’s point.

I think it’s extremely important to start seeing ‘asking for help’ as acceptable via creating vulnerable characters. As my favourite researcher, Dr Brené Brown, says: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

We have done nearly a 180 degree turn from the ‘damsel in distress‘ to ‘I don’t need anybody’s help’ messaging. It can certainly help me relating to characters, but does it serve me?

What do you think?

I would love to hear you opinions. It’s completely OK to disagree with my opinions by the way. 😊

13 thoughts on “Help!”

  1. I struggled with this a lot… It took me quite a while, but i came to terms with it, and realised (after some time with my therapist) that he’s right. Not asking for help is not = being strong. It’s just being stubborn, and leads to resentment.

    Like you said how people didn’t read your mind 😀

    Not speaking your mind, not asking for help is like taking the back seat in your own life, and becoming a spectator. It can be fine for a while, but then if something happens, you suddenly feel like you are not in control, and then it’s scary.

    I kept telling myself that asking for help is just basically means being honest. And everyone appreciates that as far as i can see.

    Maybe this different perspective helps? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your ‘being a spectator’ analogy, so spot on! 👏👏👏 Thank you for commenting and for your perspective, I really appreciate it. 🙏 😊

      I did with my coach a challenge a while ago when I had to ask somebody for help everyday for a while. It helped me a lot.

      I’m enjoying What Alice Forgot! More than half way through now, thanks for the recommendation! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I ABSOLUTELY agree. I think the pull away from the damsels-in-distress trope has resulted in characters who think it’s a failure to ask for help when in fact it’s the greatest strength to be able to acknowledge your own vulnerability. And me too! I love children’s books because they offer character who are vulnerable, something that more advanced books forget to emphasize nowadays. Terrific post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Vera, a great idea to turn into a post. Just a day after mother’s day in the UK- I was thinking the people who lost their mums or the mums who lost their children- it must be so though to open social media and see everyone sharing mother’s day posts.. One of my friends earlier said never shy away from sharing that you feel bad on those days, ask for a hand, it is so true, there are people out there making life worthy to live..Crying on a shoulder doesn’t make us bad, actually it’s the opposite, it makes us strong!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is such a beautiful example. Mother’s day can trigger many tough emotions and admitting that we don’t want to experience them alone can bring us closer to people in our lives that earned our trust.
      Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your thoughtful comment. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kelly’s post really resonated with me too and I love how you explored the theme of help here. I think it’s such a good point that there always seems to be a dichotomy between waiting to be rescued vs being kickass. I love that Brown quote- wow! Personally I think that it’s not a weakness to ask for help. One thing I tend to notice in books as well is that they not only don’t ask, but also reject help if it’s offered- and I think there’s something to be said about being gracious. So yeah, I do see this idea of vulnerability not being explored as often as it could be in books. As I said to Kelly, I personally would like to see different types of characters (which goes back to your point about the two extremes of so many characters in books)

    Amazing post!!!

    (PS I also cry at that bit in LOTR!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your point about rejecting help. It is such a valid point I have noticed in books as well. Somehow book characters like to be perceived as ‘strong’ = no help needed (even when it’s offered) as vulnerability is sort of frown upon. Thank you!

      And thank you for stopping by and joining the discussion! ❤

      PS. Glad I’m not the only one that needs issues for LOTR! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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