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In the Weeds

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
In the Weeds

I recently heard a colleague say “I’m in the Weeds!” when expressing how overwhelmed she was with her current workload. I chuckled when she said that, having not heard that expression since I was a waitress in college. If you’re not familiar, “In the Weeds” is an expression commonly used in the restaurant industry… to hear cries of “I’m in the weeds!!” means someone is having a hard time keeping up with the demands of their tables and feels themselves falling behind or losing control. To declare yourself “in the weeds” is to declare yourself in need of help.

When I first heard the expression I didn’t understand what it meant at all. But thinking about it, I imagined myself in a field of tall weeds—so tall I couldn’t see over them, so that I was literally “in the weeds.” Imagine how overwhelming that would feel—to not be clear on what direction would take you home; to not know even where to begin. Yes, when you’re in the weeds you need help indeed.

How often are we “in the weeds” in our lives and don’t ask for help? Like I pondered some months back, I think we sometimes default to an “I got this!” mindset, forgetting that a call for help is not a declaration of failure nor is it a giving up. A call for help sometimes just means “I can’t do this well if I keep doing it alone.”   A call for help can be a realization that what we can accomplish together is usually so much better than what we can accomplish alone. There is no defeat in that.

The other thing about this is it’s not just that we don’t ask for help as often as we probably should; it’s that we don’t even admit to being “in the weeds.” I mean, look, in a world where Pinterest shows me perfect people making perfect homemade perfect things, and Instagram shows me beautiful people with soft edges seeming to spend day after day just having fun, and Facebook reminds me that everyone is accomplishing amazing things daily and their kids are the best at everything ever… well, in THAT world it can feel like we’re supposed to hide the rough edges; it can feel like imperfection is a flaw rather than a human fact. So a confession to being “in the weeds” can feel scary indeed—even if it’s only to ourselves.

So, maybe the first step to getting out of the weeds is not to ask for help, but simply to admit we’re in them in the first place. And once we recognize this as the familiar place many have tread before us, we can shout out for someone to come join us on the walk toward clearer ground.

Feeling “In The Weeds” today?  How can you shout it from the rooftop?


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.