We all have that fear that we will be labeled as incompetent once we ask for assistance with things that we genuinely can’t handle. But if I were to ask, there is no one in this world who is solely self-reliant. Each of us—for at least a minute of our day—needs someone to help us with something we can’t just do by ourselves. From the moment we step into college and all throughout adulthood, we are all expected to be independent and, ideally, that’s the trait that you need to have to satisfy the standards of this competitive society.
But, oftentimes, strong and independent people still have their moments of discouragement... they also feel weak and sometimes even self-sabotage. But they don't reach out, or worse, hear statements like “Huh? Ikaw? Wala lang ‘yan sa’yo, ‘sus!” when they do.
The next time you feel afraid to ask for help, here's what you need to remember:
Showing vulnerability doesn’t make you less independent.
Yes, I too was once guilty of being one of those people who let their pride get the best of them. Most of the time when people would ask me if there’s something wrong, I'd likely answer, “No, everything is fine,” for the sake of avoiding confrontation with sharing my true feelings. It didn’t bother me for a couple of months. But, further along, it started to gradually take a toll on me. That is when I realized that the habit is not helping me get closer to independence, but towards isolation.
As I experience different things throughout my life, I slowly realize that showing and accepting your weak side is actually a manifestation of being self-secured. After being cheated on by my first long-term boyfriend, I was so devastated for a long time. Moving on from what happened was not an easy journey—it was full of careful attempts to get back into the dating scene, doubting every intention of the people around me, and I was unlucky that it was not the TV from my bedroom that kept me up most nights, it was my loud thoughts questioning my worth.
From there, I reinforced the idea of building a high and sturdy wall between me and the people who want to enter my life so I won’t be mistreated again. I told myself that I shouldn’t show my true emotions towards someone for the fear that once they knew my soft spots, they will start to use it against me. With this, I thought I was winning, but as I went along I saw that I haven’t gained much with that kind of perspective. My “strong and independent” facade cost me some chances to build meaningful relationships, missed opportunities, and lost moments where I could’ve been happy.
Independence is not about pride, it’s about maturity.
We all depend on each other to some degree, may it be opening a door for a stranger or comforting someone at their darkest times. We can’t be fully happy if we seclude ourselves from society. Try—for once in a while—to take yourself out of the pedestal and see through other’s wide array of ideas—and I promise you, you will be introduced to a much more alluring life.
We often mistook independence for being too conceited with ourselves. But the truth is if we are going to analyze how independence works, it is actually the capacity of the person to adapt to sudden situations. Independence is knowing your capabilities, utilizing them, and striving to improve every now and then. Independence is empowering yourself but not to the extent of arrogance and stubbornness when things are not going your way.
Independence is being aware of your strengths and at the same time, of your shortcomings. Independence is knowing when to ask for support and tending to it because you know that is one of the ways to self-care—to shape yourself into a better version. Independence is having your own opinion for yourself yet, being open-minded and respectful of others' views. It is not carrying all of the baggage alone until you exhaust yourself.
Don’t let your independence isolate you from the great things that life has to offer.
A friend once told me, “Sometimes we overvalue ourselves that we forget the value of connecting with others,” and that hit me big time. We hide behind our misinformed belief that we will be spared from heartbreak and disappointment but at the end of the day, we are actually being selfish for not being honest with other people—and with ourselves. We unconsciously make ourselves lonelier because we bottle up our true feelings.
Say what you really feel, act genuinely, and if you don’t get the outcome you expected, that’s okay! People who are truly independent are those who can accept rejection and reflect on it, as they try to get back up and still keep their hearts open despite the fear they feel. Because if you don’t give life another chance, you’ll never know if there are better offers that await you. So just go for it, bring down that wall and let yourself be free of all the worries and doubts because true independence is being unapologetic about your honesty.