It may seem counterintuitive, but it has its rewards.
Growing up I was always taught to be independent. By being financially responsible, and not relying on others to fix my problems, I’d be capable of dealing with anything that came my way in life — the good and the bad. It’s something I worked hard to be, but sometimes I wonder if I’ve been a little too successful at becoming so independent.
A recent event in my life led me to ask for significant emotional support. I was mortified and disappointed in myself. Yet when I saw the response of those I leaned on, I realized how it’s not only humbling to ask for help, but it also gives others a chance to feel needed. Those looking in on our lives are finally able to help out someone they’ve seen struggling for a long time.
For me, this was a relief — and it was a long-time coming. My stubborn “I can do it” attitude was stopping me from actually doing things better. By accepting help, my burdens were lightened and it gave me the strength to move forward while retaining a more reasonable level of independence. It also let those close to me know that I was vulnerable, and aren’t we all to some degree?
When I hear the expression from the 17th-century poet John Donne that “no man is an island,” I’m reminded that I want to be part of something much bigger: to have faith in my own abilities while also cherishing the fact that I’m part of a community that holds each other up. While I can pray to God for His help and guidance in trying times, sometimes His help comes in the form of a loving parent, a sibling, a friend, or a colleague reaching out.
So while I’ll be teaching my own children to be independent, I will be instilling in them the virtue of being humble and asking for help when they need it. We are called not simply to be independent but interdependent, relying on each other as we all make our way through this life.