Asking for help shows strength, not weakness

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Many university students seem to believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. However, recognizing when you need support and having the courage to seek it out is actually a sign of strength and academic engagement.

The idea that asking for help is somehow shameful is a misconception fostered by high-pressure educational environments. As students’ educational careers progress, pressures surrounding academic excellence become increasingly difficult to bear.

Do better. Enjoy learning. Understand everything. Get good grades. Don’t procrastinate. Be more efficient. Most importantly, above all else, don’t succumb to stress.

These pressures come from professors, parents, and even students themselves.

Competitiveness between students creates a toxic learning environment as it forces them to evaluate their success relative to their peers. This atmosphere leads students to believe they aren’t good enough by tying self-worth to an ability to outperform others instead of personal growth.

This way of thinking keeps students from asking for help. They fear it will make them a burden and show they’re incapable of independence—the ultimate failure.

Eventually, this fear of inadequacy paralyzes students and leaves them struggling silently. These emotions become all-consuming and manifest as academic burnout.

Even though we avoid asking for help to look intelligent, ironically, not asking results in poorer academic performance. It fosters a negative association with schoolwork that leaves students frustrated, exhausted, and unable to complete tasks.

Therefore, students who feel overwhelmed, whether it be related to their academics or personal life, should reach out for help.

Off-campus, students can reach out to loved ones who make them feel safe for emotional and moral support. For those seeking help outside their inner circle, the Government of Canada’s Mental Health page has various resources and hotlines that provide aids for specific situations.

On-campus, students can reach out to their TAs or professors about specific questions or concerns relating to a class. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions about assignments or class concepts; doing so improves understanding of the material and may help others in the class, too.

Queen’s also offers various academic and health services.

To find more information about these support systems, students can visit the Campus & Community Support Resources page on the Queen’s website. However, even though Queen’s has these resources available, many students don’t know they exist. 

The University should focus on making it easy for students to access the help that’s available.

Brief classroom presentations about the various ways students can ask for help at the beginning of each semester might increase awareness of campus resources. That way, students are more likely to feel the institution cares about their wellbeing.

Although it may be nerve-racking, asking for help shows resilience—a trait that nurtures success. So next time you feel overwhelmed, take a breath, evaluate your options, and seek support.

Let’s remember asking for help is not a sign of weakness—being afraid to is.

Mikayla Wilson is a third-year Concurrent Education student and one of The Journal’s Copy Editors.

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