I love shopping, but what I find most frustrating is having to tag along heavy shopping bags. A typical street market in Africa is haphazard and navigating is not exactly the most pleasurable experience. Thankfully, here in Ghana, there are people called “carriers” who make your life easier and ensure you have a nice shopping experience. They assist you with your shopping bags for a little token.
My only worry is that these “carriers” are usually young women (some with children on their backs), who carry metal bowls on their head. Back home in Nigeria, we have such “carriers” – they are mostly males, and they use wheelbarrows. As you might imagine, I always have mixed views about using female “carriers”.
A part of me feels like it is abuse to do so – I mean, these are women like me, and I should not take advantage of them. Another part of me feels like using their service would be a way of helping to put some food on their plates and empowering them to meet their needs while being of help to me.
A few Saturdays ago, I had a memorable encounter during my shopping. I had bought quite a few items and still had a lot more on my list. My shopping bag was getting heavy and cumbersome to pull along. I was approached by several “carriers” who wanted to assist me with my bag, but my humanistic side had the upper hand, and I turned down those offers.
A certain young girl, however, was rather persistent. She was good looking, polite and neatly dressed. Noticing I could not understand the local language, Twi, she spoke perfect English to me. I turned her down severally, but she would not give up. She was insistent. In her own words, “I just want to help you”.
This statement reminded me of an encounter I had with a woman I greatly admire a few weeks before this incident. I asked for her most significant life lesson which led to her overwhelming success as a woman and as a scientist. She noted that she had learnt to accept help whenever it was offered to her knowing that no one could achieve everything all by themselves.
So here I was – with a young lady offering to assist me. I eventually bulged and had one of my most exciting shopping experience since I arrived in Accra. She showed me areas of the market I never knew existed, helped me negotiate some prices in the local language and made great company throughout my shopping. In the end, I was more than glad I had accepted her offer to help. It was a perfect win-win!
Many times, we struggle with things for which we can conveniently get help. I am as guilty of this as I write this post. Most times, I like to think that I am super-woman. In reality, there are no super-beings. We only have people who have learned to be sufficiently interdependent on others and have achieved super-productivity by doing so.
When saying “yes” to help, remember these:
- It is a sign of strength: It is tempting to think that saying “yes”, especially when you need help the most, is a sign of weakness. I assure you, it is not. Sometimes, you need to be proactive and ask for help early. You can delegate some tasks, but apparently, there are some things you have got to do yourself. It is essential to identify those tasks which can be assigned so that you can focus on those that cannot be. Nobody is completely indispensable. If you died today; you would be surprised how well life goes on in your absence.
- It is never easy at first: I can relate to all the emotional barriers to receiving or asking for help. The truth is there is always a possibility of failure in everything you do. You must come to terms with that and keep trying regardless. It may feel like no one would be able to give you the help you desire effectively, but human beings are brilliant. They have the propensity to learn if adequately directed. Sure, this would require much patience on your part, but it would be worthwhile in the long run. Once you can cross the mental barriers limiting you and reach out, you will be surprised at the outcome.
- You must be willing to render help to others as well: While it is great to receive help, it is more honourable to offer help as well. We live in a collaborative era. One good turn always deserves another. You cannot keep receiving all the time; you must also be prepared to help others whenever we can. I do not mean to imply that you should go out of your way to please others and greatly inconvenience yourself doing so. Selflessness should not be self-detrimental. There should be an excellent balance between saying yes to assist others and saying no when it is inconvenient to do so. In my pre-teenage years, I read a book titled “don’t say yes when you want to say no”. It was from the book that I learnt the words “assertiveness training” for the first time in my life. I cannot help but appreciate the hidden truths in that book: it is essential to know where to draw the line in helping others.
I hope you enjoy reading this – and you say “yes” to help that comes your way henceforth!