Knowing when you need to ask for help

One of the most important things I’ve learnt since coming to Sheffield, perhaps even THE most important thing, is knowing when to ask for help, and then actually asking.

In principle, it is simple.

You realise you don’t know something. You ask someone. They answer. And now you know.

But to someone who is not used to asking, this linear and straightforward process is a convoluted mess. Because sometimes even to come to the realisation that you don’t understand something, and identifying what that something is, is an entire complicated process on its own. Do you get me? Sometimes, you don’t even know what it is that you don’t know.idontknow

And once you’ve come up with a question and have it worded perfectly in English (the daily struggles of a non-native English speaker) in your head, you need to then gather the courage to actually ask. Which is probably the hardest step of all. So in the end, you end up not asking. And as a result, you get stuck in a perpetual state of not knowing.

That person was me. I speak in past tense because I think (and hope) that I have changed. In the past, it seemed like everyone else knew. Everyone else understood what the lecturer was saying. Everyone else could do the tutorial sheets, no problem.

But actually, anyone who raises a hand and asks a question in class, or even asks a lecturer to repeat, believe me, this person is secretly being thanked by the rest of the class. Friends within the same course might actually be struggling to understand the same concepts. And lecturers and demonstrators are more than willing to help. Seriously, it’s their job to aid you in your studies.

So it’s ok not to know everything. Learn your limits. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. And don’t be ashamed of it either. And realise this: you are not alone.

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