In spending a year abroad, I must continuously remind myself that I have to let people take care of me and be generous to me. I’m going to have to ask for help from strangers.
This is a lot more challenging than it should be. This might be my biggest challenge. (Next to language!)
I spent a week at my parents’ home in San Francisco between my summer in Zion and my semester in Dubai. For a few of those days, an old friend of my dad’s and his wife stayed with us. I’d never met either before; however, I was more than happy to spend a day showing them the sights in San Francisco. Yet when they mentioned having relatives in Dubai I could look up, I instinctively recoiled at the idea of taking advantage of a stranger.
While refusing to accept help is commonly a pride thing, for me it’s an insecurity thing. I don’t want to put anyone out and have them sacrifice time and resources on me when perhaps they don’t enjoy my company or think I’m worth it. I also hate people fussing over me. My automatic instinct is to snap, to refuse help, and to close up.
I detest celebrating my own birthday. If I fall and someone stops to ask if I’m okay, I’ll order them to keep going. If someone offers to drive me somewhere and public transit is possible, I’m taking the public transit. I’m not by nature a generous person–ask anyone who’s tried to have some of my Nutella.
However, I do believe absolutely in offering what help I can–whether it be a makeshift bed on the floor of my dorm room or a secret camping spot in a park. My favourite memory of work at Zion this summer was when I spent fifteen minutes with a customer telling him about all the hikes, and when he returned the next day enthused about the one I recommended.
So intellectually I know that I should have no trouble accepting the same from other people. Emotionally, however, I don’t like to inconvenience people or do something that might put them out.
Instinctively, human nature is to share, and part of sharing is in being shared with. It seems incredibly counter-intuitive to struggle to accept gits, but this year I’ll be working on graciously accepting others’ generosity.