Independent in a dependent world

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Everyone has a story that is both challenging and spectacular in their own personalized way, though many of these stories are not immediately visible. Yet, we go about our lives independently without much thought of our dependent situations.

Merriam-Webster has five definitions for independent, which combine to be the typical way we think of it: not being controlled by or relying on anything or anyone.

Ever since I was tiny, my parents raised me to be independent and I have done my best to live that way. I wouldn’t change that teaching for the world, though I have come to realize that independence means much more than it is commonly thought as.

I have Muscular Dystrophy so I am constantly dependent on extra equipment for driving, braces and crutches to walk, a wheelchair for long distances, elevators to save my limited energy and others just to go through my day-to-day life.

I’ve learned how to live completely on my own and can do just about everything by myself. I would carry a bunch of groceries up 32 stairs to my apartment and think nothing of it, of course, until my best friend would get on me for not calling her for help.

Asking for help had always been seen as a weakness to me, but this friend taught me that we don’t have to see it that way. We all have strengths and weaknesses and when we combine these traits, we can accomplish so much more than we could alone.

If only more people thought about life kind of like my friend, who sees the world not as independent but closer to interdependent, which Oxford Dictionary defines as dependent on each other.

For me, the words of Mulan ring out loud and clear: “When will my reflection show who I am inside?” People see me as a girl on crutches or in a wheelchair but inside, I’m just an ordinary girl who goes through challenges like everyone else.

I’m not alone in this thinking; there are so many people who struggle with various things and have dependencies that we can’t see.  The “out of sight, out of mind” rationalization needs to be forgotten to make room for collaborative efforts.

I am frequently seen as one who needs assistance and I often get asked if I need any help. I understand people’s reasoning since it looks like I may need help but what about the others that don’t look like they need anything?

You never know what kind of battles those around us are going through.

We spend so much time wrapped up in our own lives with our faces in our phones, almost walking into people and walls in the process, unaware of the world around us. If we open our eyes a little more, we can touch the lives of others. Sometimes even just a smile helps with a struggle.

I’m not saying we need to drop our current perception of independence. We just need to be more aware of others around us.

It’s still a struggle but I’m learning that I can give a little slack on the reins of my independence without feeling like I am handing them over completely. I have to remember that I am not the only one benefiting by letting others help me.

Service makes people feel good and gives them the chance to forget about their dependencies for at least a little bit.

It’s time to let go of our egos and be a little more willing to help each other out.