We Are Worthy of Support: Reflections from the Summer Organizer Program (part 2)
I haven’t always felt comfortable asking for help. Previously, I thought asking for help meant I was not “good enough,” and I thought that struggling on my own was a reflection of true strength. I learned this mindset from my family, who are Brown working class immigrants always battling to survive. I experienced this individualistic culture in my own Indo-Caribbean communities, where asking for support was never seen as an option. I witnessed systems of power silencing the needs of marginalized communities. Different internalized oppressions fueled this mindset, and I never had a space to unlearn these ideas and invite in new values.
When I found out that my work plan this summer was to co-organize Dragon Fruit Network’s Asking for Help Workshop Series, specifically for trans and non-binary APIs, I felt exhilarated to be in this space—I rarely had been in a community where my race and queerness were being honored all at once. The series emphasizes the importance of interdependence in liberation work, but I felt nervous to name how inexperienced I felt in organizing and asking for support. It was only in these workshops that I realized how our trans and queer API communities have always survived by being interdependent.
During the planning process for the workshop series, I needed support to work through my facilitation anxieties. At a team check-in, as I was getting closer to co-facilitating my first TGNC Asking for Help workshop, I pushed myself to ask for help. I had so much anxiety consuming my body and mind, and these cyclical thoughts convinced me that I did not have the potential, nor the skills, to be a facilitator.
As Sammie led the summer team into the “Lil Peer Assist” section of our agenda—a time intentionally built in for Summer Organizers to practice supporting one other—I contemplated whether my fears were even worth bringing up, let alone worth asking for support to work through. Sammie emphasized that it could be anything we wanted help with, so I pushed the microphone icon on Zoom to unmute myself and said “I need some help!” This moment felt as terrifying as uttering forbidden words, and as chaotic as saying a tongue twister. I thought the whole Zoom would malfunction and shut down! This, of course, did not happen. Instead, I was met with affirming head nods and an enthusiastic “great!” from Sammie. In a matter of seconds, I was put into a breakout room with the other four Summer Organizers, who held space for me and absorbed what I had to say. In a matter of seconds, I was giving my past self a chance to breathe and brought a new Cassie to life.
Before speaking, I took a moment to stare at my cohort and contemplated how honest I should be about my fears. Should I minimize how I am feeling? Should I be vulnerable and tell them I am afraid of dissociating during a workshop? In this moment, I realized I could no longer hold onto these feelings and anxieties by myself—I needed emotional support from the community to not only affirm my feelings, but also to help me ease them.
Through talking with my fellow Summer Organizers, I felt myself letting go of the tensions in my body and began to experience freedom in my bones. The Summer Organizers validated me, sharing their own similar experiences and brainstorming ways to let go of these feelings. I received the suggestion to practice my script, said my words out loud, and received feedback on each activity. By the end, I was ready for the actual day!
Through the collective wisdom of my fellow Summer Organizers, I learned that being a facilitator is not about perfectionism—it is more about acting as a guide for community learning. With this understanding, I leaned into the power and humanity of being a facilitator, and set my intention on holding a vulnerable community space. By asking for help, I was able to gain new lessons about what it means to be a facilitator, AND receive the affirmations I needed to understand my own potential.
Asking for help is vulnerable and feels intimidating, but it has brought an abundance of love, healing, and wisdom into my life. Now, as my time as a Summer Organizer comes to an end, I know that the skills of interdependence will live on through my daily actions and future organizing. This summer, I learned that organizing is about interdependence. It’s about mobilizing a collective and it’s about investing in an entire community, including our past, present, and future selves.
Interdependence encourages us to recognize the power that people have to support and transform one another. It encourages us to understand that our needs are important and our lives are worthy of being invested in. As I continue organizing with QTAPIs, I know I will ask for help from my fellow comrades and community members. I will make a strong and dignified ask for help because naming my needs is an act of resistance against a world that currently silences me and an ode to my ancestors who have always practiced interdependence.
Cassie (they/them) is a non-binary queer Indo-Caribbean person, currently living on Munsee Lenape and Canarsie Land (so-called “Ozone Park, New York”).