For as long as I can remember, independence was a trait I not only considered favorable, but a characteristic I pursued relentlessly. If I could just be more independent and self-reliant then I’d never be obligated to anyone else out of necessity or codependence. It never even crossed my mind that someone could be too independent or that strong interpersonal relationships are not just beneficial but, to some degree, necessary for survival.
Independence was the most important thing to me when I started college and I worked tirelessly to prove that I had it all together and I could do it all myself. Then one day I stopped distracting myself with my work, I took a real look at my life, and I could barely recognize it. I had consumed as many cups of coffee as the number of actual meals I’d eaten in the last couple of days and I answered almost all offers of aid with “that’s okay I got it” before I even truly considered what I was turning down. This hyper independent attitude wasn’t serving anyone-least of all myself.
I realized I was doing everything on my own out of fear: fear of embarrassment, fear of looking incompetent, fear of being codependent. Fear is not a sustainable or productive motivator. Once I really let go of trying to do everything myself I got to move forward in life out of joy or ambition instead of fear of losing control. I’m still not perfect at accepting others’ help but I try to remember the value of transparency and honesty and how it can lead to support from the ones you trust. If you want to better yourself, maybe start by letting others help you get there first before you try to do it all yourself.