Asking for help is hard. Like really hard. Hard on the scale of making adorable cookies in fun cookie cutter shapes. Either they help you or don’t. You get delicious adorable cookies, or you get delicious hideous cookies. How are either of those things bad outcomes?
But working up the nerve to email or call someone I don’t see or hear from regularly is still really hard. I sit on my couch and hope I’m saying the right thing, have I made enough small talk and polite inquiries about their lives to be able to just ask them. It’s not that I don’t care about what’s happening in their lives, I’m usually very interested and impressed at how well their doing and care deeply about what they’re saying, but I’m so nervous about asking for reject work that I want to get to that part as fast as possible and know how they’ll react. Then I’ll chat all day, comfortably and not awkwardly because I’m not freaking out anymore about a simply question where they can either say yes or no. And the most confusing part is that most people I could conceivable ask for help or advice are musicians. Musicians are a special breed. We are a tight-knit group, bonded over our inexplicable love of this art, our unwavering commitment to practicing an absurd amount of hours everyday, and our resignation that we will always be poor. I’ve never met a musician unwilling to help another out. Where do I get this crazy idea that people won’t want to help me or will somehow think less of me for asking for help?
I think this stems from my natural stubbornness. It was stubbornness that made me a musician, and stubbornness that makes me think I can do it by myself and don’t need help. It’s almost like it doesn’t count as me succeeding if I get help doing it. Or that people I admire will think less of me if I have to ask someone to help me. This is utterly ridiculous since every story I hear about someone who’s succeeding, who’s doing what I want to do, includes a long story about someone who helped them when they were just starting, giving them work, recommending them to other people, and giving them good advice.
Everybody needs help. No one is an island. Don’t let crazy neuroses hold you back.
Being a musician means you’re part of a community. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know you very well or that we haven’t kept in touch. We help each other, because we understand each other’s special kind of crazy that drove us to do this with our lives.