Chapter 4

The Inherent Paradox in Asking for Help

About a year ago, I was helping a friend from graduate school put together a particularly complicated and intimidating IKEA bookshelf. Ever since I had proven myself decent at this sort of thing years ago, I’d been her go-to gal for furniture assembly. (Honestly, it’s not that I’m particularly handy; I’m just weirdly good at understanding poorly illustrated instructions.)

Assembling bookshelves is probably pretty low on most people’s list of “ways I enjoy helping my friends”—right below water my plants while I’m away, but still above help me move into my new apartment—and I’m no different. Yet, I eagerly agreed to her request when she phoned me, and even found myself looking forward to lending ...

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