I am going to get straight to the point today, because the Beatles were right: we get by with a little help from our friends.
I’m a product of late 20th-century/early 21st-century American society, and as a product of said society I’ve noticed that we’ve taken the notion of Rugged American Independence and we’ve turned it into a religion. We all firmly believe that we must be independent at all costs. We can’t depend on anyone for anything, because that means we’ve failed. (And we’ve talked about how crazy we all are about failure recently, so we won’t rehash how crazy we get about that.)
Here’s the thing: it’s impossible to be completely independent. Read that again, preferably out loud. I’ll wait.
I’m dead serious when I say that we can’t be completely independent. Think about it for a minute. Who all do I depend on? Well, if you take family and friends out of the picture, there’s still a pretty decent list. I depend on:
- My employer to pay me each month
- My condo association to keep the grounds and building I live in in good shape
- The water company to make sure I can take a shower and flush my toilet
- Grocery stores to stock the food I buy (and restaurants to cook it!)
- Jon Hamm to keep making episodes of Mad Men (okay, okay…)
- Pharmaceutical companies to get me through allergy season
- The postal service to deliver my mail
- The police to keep my town safe
- My financial institution not to lose all my money (eek!)
…and if I wanted to I could probably sit here and list another 100 things I depend on every single day. We all depend on each other; we just tend to forget about a lot of it.
I haven’t even listed the fact that my friends keep me sane when life goes all pear-shaped. That they give me a place to go on holidays or just for fun on the weekends. That they will help me out when things go wrong. They’ll offer me a cup of tea and an ear when I need one. (This, by the way, is the idea behind Muse Song, the muse of self-care and encouragement, from Kaizen-Muse. Nurturing yourself by hanging out with good friends and feeling the love is good for your creativity!)
The same thing is true with family (though in my case, they’re a little farther away). If I really need something, someone I know will jump in and help me. I’m sure you can say the same.
It really is okay to need others.
You know what? I’m totally okay with that, and you should be, too. None of us expect someone who’s been in an accident or has come down with a particularly deadly illness to get by completely on her own. We don’t expect folks who’ve just experienced a significant loss to soldier on as if nothing’s happened—and if they do, most of us worry about them. If you’d offer assistance to someone else when he needs it, you shouldn’t begrudge yourself the privilege of receiving that same assistance when you’re the one who needs help. I don’t especially care for the American Church of Rugged Individualism, especially when it makes people neurotic (or worse) over being perfectly, wonderfully human–which by definition means we can’t do everything ourselves.
Remember what Brené Brown says: we’re all hard-wired for connection. If you’ve been having a rough time lately because you feel like you need help with something but are convinced that you should be able to do it yourself. please lighten up and cut yourself a break. You’re human. You help others, and others help you in return. That’s how it works, and it’s how it’s supposed to work.
And just in case you don’t believe me, I’m depending on Ringo and his friends to remind you. Enjoy!