Smilingly I would comment to people when they called that if there weren’t lots of people struggling on their own, my profession wouldn’t even exist. This experience of feeling unable to handle things on their own elicits responses that vary widely – some people are nonchalant and comfortable while others are deeply ashamed and feel like they might be somehow broken. And if you fall into this latter group – read on as I discuss how understandable it is to be embarrassed and why it’s completely normal to have someone help you.
Anyone can be nervous about the state of his or her home and spaces. And I mean anyone – from the “hoarders” to those in an immaculate home, and everyone in-between. The self-described “hoarders” are often quite embarrassed – though by labeling themselves as such, they’re putting themselves in with the extreme situations shown on TV. Then there are plenty of people being labeled as “hoarders” by their families and don’t necessarily realize that having some (even a lot of) clutter doesn’t make you a “hoarder.”
Our loved ones can sometimes unintentionally make things more challenging (if we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt, and I like to give everyone that). There are people who seem to struggle to understand how anyone could get so behind, or not handle things more efficiently. As I’ve interacted with some people like this, it seems that they cannot conceptualize anything beyond how they “just do what needs to be done” so why can’t everyone else do that? Others are frustrated and hurt at how things have fallen apart and their emotions interfere with being helpful about getting things back on track. And that can lead to becoming hopeless about things ever improving – for everyone involved. These messages – whatever they might be – can then add to the embarrassment of both the situation as well as needing help at all.
I desperately wish there was a way I could shift everyone’s thinking to understand that we all need help. It doesn’t make us a failure nor does it mean that we are broken in any way. Although it is contrary to many people’s conceptions of a professional organizer, professional organizers will call in other professional organizer’s to help them with their own spaces. Why would they need someone to come in?
It’s easier to do things when you’re not alone. I cannot claim to know why this is so – yet many, many people talk to me about this. I feel this same way, and have asked friends over to simply keep me company while I work on something. We are social animals after all. Things seem less onerous and there is someone to bounce ideas off of. It can be amazing that simply having another person present can reduce how overwhelming things feel. Maybe it’s an implicit accountability – “I’ve invited them over to talk to me while I do x, I better do x.” When someone is right there with you, you’ve got a place to turn for support if you need it.
Some people are more likely to view things from “new eyes” when there’s someone with them. I’ve noticed that myself – when we had a small party, I suddenly saw all the cobwebs on the ceiling that I’d missed and how this and that spot felt a little cluttered. It’s like I was viewing my home from each guest’s eyes – at least possibly. And when you bring in a professional, they can go a step further than simply another set of eyes – they can recognize how things could be improved (though most of us aren’t going in looking for that randomly – just when someone hires us!).
It saddens me that any of us would be ashamed of needing help. If we think about it, there are lots of things we all need help with and have no embarrassment about – so why is there a double standard about needing help with some things (even within ourselves) that brings up shame? Maybe those who are comfortable are those who recognize that getting help is the next logical step – it’s not a big deal. Whatever you might be struggling with – I encourage you to lose the embarrassment or at least set it aside and find someone to help you through it.