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Despite much evidence to the contrary, I have this belief that given enough time and enough perseverance, I can figure most things out on my own. It’s the trait that’s led me to do my own taxes and to set up a PVR through my computer, for example. And I’ve been pretty successful with those, if your measurement is that I’m not in jail for tax fraud and have fallen in love with my working PVR, except when I forget I have it and should really program it instead of waiting until I’m cursing myself for missing that show I wanted to check out.

But it’s also the trait that leads me to make messes and then have too much pride to ask for help even when it becomes obvious that I shockingly cannot always figure things out. Both frustrating examples this week involved messing up my e-mail or Internet connection, and I still haven’t learned my lesson.

I used to have a non-blog website for freelancing stuff, and I still have the domain name. I don’t want to get rid of it yet – it’s my name, and some day maybe I’ll want to do something else with it – so I figured for now I’d just redirect it to the Canadian TV site. Seemed simple enough, until I realized that in doing so, I’d messed up the e-mail account associated with that domain, the e-mail I still use for writing-related activities like requesting interviews and review materials. Luckily I’ve been a slug lately – let’s be kind and call it summer vacation – and I expect I only missed many, many business opportunities in Nigeria in the couple of days it was down.

I could have had it fixed sooner, but it took me that long to swallow my pride and ask for help from my friend who designed and hosted the very pretty website I have made disappear for now, and who manages the domain name server. And while I indisputably messed up by not realizing the redirection would affect the e-mail, it turns out he had to fix it from his end. So I’m vindicated in a way – it’s not that I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, it’s that I couldn’t fix it. I think.

In any case, the lesson I should probably take from this is that if I find myself in trouble, I should ask for help sooner rather than after I’ve pulled my hair out in frustration. The lesson I am taking away is that I might have been able to figure it out, if I’d had proper access, and that hair will always grow back.

This trait also led me to believe I could easily set up a security-enabled wireless network at home. Simple – I got one thingamajig, installed it, realized I needed another thingamajig, installed that, followed the directions in the networking Wizard – a Wizard whose entire purpose is to lead me through the process, step by easy step – and ended up with a wireless network that has limited or no connectivity at all times. There was a point in this process when I had no Internet connection at all, but fortunately I did manage to fix that.

I haven’t given up on this one yet. I’ve been waiting for the weekend when I’ll have some time to persevere, and I’ll tackle the wireless network again. It would be easier to call a techie friend to come over and fix it, or at least talk me through it, easier and maybe less humiliating to pay someone to fix it. But I’ll try it again because I’m still sure I can figure it out, if I just keep trying. See? There’s that trait.

But I also hate that I’m reluctant to ask for help. I’m not sure why I think I’ll shrivel up and blow away if I admit that I can’t do everything myself. That, yes, sometimes it sucks not to have someone around to either fix these messes I make, or to make an even bigger mess so I can feel better about my own efforts, or just to laugh at me and my silly pride. Because sometimes, even if I can figure things out on my own, it would be nice not to feel I have to.