Independent to a Fault

achievement confident free freedomWhen I was a little girl, I would try to cross the busy road in front of my house without holding my Mom’s hand.  Of course, with a firm grasp of my hand, she won that battle every time.  And although I enjoyed riding bike and playing in the creek with kids my age, some of my interests were solo activities, like writing stories and reading gobs of books.  And I was OK with being by myself sometimes.  Yes, I have always been an independent spirit.

As a teenager I had a large bedroom, and many times because I got bored, I would like to move my furniture around in different ways.  I never waited for anyone to help, because I didn’t like to ask. To say I was headstrong would be an understatement.  I took it upon myself to move the dresser, the bed and even a heavy cedar chest to different places in the room.  My hip really got its workout during those years.

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” ― Denis Waitley

The year I turned 16, I wanted to get a job and make my own money.  I didn’t want to rely on my parents for things that I could earn myself.  I paid my bills on time and put gas in my car.  I even paid for the phone calls I made at home, back when the whole family shared one phone that was tethered to the wall.  And if I got into a little snafu financially, I worked it out myself.  It was the only way to learn.  Mom and Dad taught me to take responsibility for my actions and do things for myself.

In those days I was becoming more independent and self-reliant, but I had a long way to go.  After all, I still lived under my parents’ roof and depended on them for shelter and food. By the time I moved into my own apartment in my early 20’s and then purchased my first home a couple years later, I was very grateful my parents planted those roots and gave me those wings.

I can be hesitant to ask for or accept help, whether at work or in my personal life.  In my mind I think I can do this myself. Why bother someone else?   I guess I think of it as a challenge to see if I can accomplish something on my own. And when I have it in my head to do something, I usually want to do it now.  Patience is not one of my strong suits.

Even though I feel like I can always help myself, I do realize there are times when I need to put my stubbornness aside.  Should I wait and ask for an extra hand next time I lug a large item home?  Or accept a friend’s offer to pay for lunch and not feel the need to return the favor?  Should I welcome a hug when someone thinks I need one? Absolutely to all of the above. Because it would probably make the giver feel better, too.

Asking for help does not mean you are weak.  It does not mean you are losing control or being a burden to the other person.  It’s more that you are helping that person feel trustworthy and happy by allowing them to experience the act of giving.  This, in turn, strengthens your relationship with them.

There are times when it takes several heads or hands to come together to complete a task.  I work in a small office and often a puzzle presents itself that sometimes takes a couple of us to solve.  At that point, a co-worker of mine will shout out, “What’s gonna work?  Teamwork!” I smile inside when I hear it because it helps me realize that we can’t do everything alone.  It doesn’t matter if you are moving into a new home or simply trying to locate a job file.  We are stronger and more effective when we work together.

It’s admirable to spread your wings and want to fly solo but I must admit, it’s even better when you give someone the chance to guide you in that flight.  When my Mom had to grab my hand to cross the road, it was like she was saying, you cannot do this without me so don’t try.   I’m pretty sure she saw how strong-minded I was going to be even back then.