The vulnerability of asking for help

HuskiesCare is an online resource hub for many common issues college students face.

In mid-October this year, some family issues I’ve been dealing with reached a crescendo. Until this year, I didn’t know that stress could literally make you physically ill. Despite this, I wanted to keep going like nothing was wrong. After all, I thought to myself ‘I am in my senior year and I don’t want to miss out on any academic opportunities or extracurriculars.’ However, despite my best efforts, I missed an important assignment. My grade went from 100% to 66% overnight. I felt embarrassed and ashamed, and wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. Instead, I reached out to my professor and explained the gritty details of what was going on. I expected to be rebuffed and told to “suck it up.”

Instead, she offered me an extension without penalty and referred me to on-campus services that could help me with my home situation. After asking for help, I felt an immense sense of relief, like I had managed to free myself from a tight binding around my ribcage. I could literally breathe easier. Between my support system and campus services, my outcome has begun to look brighter. I feel so lucky to belong to a community that cares for one another. This whole experience taught me two things:

First, asking for help is the biggest hurdle to getting help.

Telling a professor you are struggling is intimidating. Students can feel too vulnerable to talk to a perceived authority figure about their home life, especially if it is a situation that feels embarrassing or awkward. However, it’s important to remember that professors are here to help you succeed. They too have been in college, and know that the stressors aren’t limited to attending class and doing homework. It also helps them put a reason behind unexplained absences, subpar work, and missed deadlines. Letting a professor know what is going on behind the scenes helps them see you as a person.

Secondly, prioritizing yourself is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

Strong people know when it is time to take it easy. As college students, we are encouraged to take on opportunities as they arise – assisting in research, taking an on-campus job, volunteering and signing up for internships fill up our time outside of class. I’ve learned just because an opportunity arises doesn’t mean you have to take it. You don’t have to pick up that extra shift just to be nice to a coworker, and you don’t have to do the extra credit assignment. First generation college students are especially affected by imposter syndrome: we feel like we don’t belong and thus work even harder to prove our worth. This is a toxic mindset. 

If you need help and aren’t sure what resources there are for you, I highly encourage you to reach out to the Office of Student Advocacy. It is as simple as filling out a short form, and you can expect a response within a few days. You can meet with a social worker who will direct you to both campus and community resources related to whatever you are dealing with.

If talking to someone feels too awkward or you are not in a safe situation to do so, University of Washington Tacoma has recently launched HuskiesCare, a virtual resource hub for University of Washington Tacoma students. The resources they have are broad and address topics like immigration status, housing insecurity, financial troubles, domestic violence, and even wifi accessibility. It is an easy to navigate, one-stop location for almost every resource you might need. It even has a button where you can immediately exit the website to the Google homepage, in case you would prefer people to not know you were seeking help. 

Check out HuskiesCare and get familiar with the resources available to you – even if you don’t need it now, you or a person you know might need them in the future.

Asking for help and taking time to prioritize self care aren’t things to be ashamed of. You’d be surprised how many other people are dealing with something similar. 

HuskiesCare: https://uwtacoma.concerncenter.com/