My goal in life is to be completely independent, but I never will be, and neither will you.
I wrote an Opinions piece a few weeks ago talking about how people constantly ask me if I need help, and how that can be somewhat detrimental for people with disabilities such as myself and able-bodied individuals as well.
While that remains true, it is also important to recognize that no one gets to where they are today without help.
For instance, when I was learning how to walk on my own, I had to first learn by holding on to someone’s arm while I went through the motions of taking each step.
If I fell, they were there to make sure I didn’t get hurt, and eventually I took my first steps on my own. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I wasn’t the one doing all of the work and, even when I could bare all of my weight, there were still people who made sure I didn’t crumble as I continued to reach milestones in my life.
There have been numerous instances I really did need help to do the things I needed or wanted to do.
One day I was in the driveway of my friend Mike’s house and I decided I wanted to try walking a hundred steps on my own without falling.
So I basically walked aimlessly across the pavement.
Mike was standing in front of me and was walking backwards with his hands out, counting with each step.
There were a few moments when my knees buckled or I would stagger or get tripped up, but, when I would regain my composure, Mike would tell me to keep going and I did.
From what I remember, I accomplished my goal and then some.
Mike didn’t have to take the time to help me do that. I’m sure there was other things a nine year old could be doing besides helping his handicapped friend with something that, in reality, probably didn’t have any benefits for him, but he wanted me to reach my goal and he supported me while I did.
Looking back on it now, even though I was the one walking, I don’t think I could’ve reached that goal without him.
As appealing as it may be to say you fought your way through life on your own, or that you want to be completely independent, it’s most likely not true.
There’s always someone who has had a part of making you who you are today, someone who has helped you keep your eye on the prize, even if you did all the work to win it.
There’s always someone in your corner.
Where would Tom Brady be without Bill Belichick calling plays? Where would Don Henley be without the rest of The Eagles?
Would Mike Tyson become the Heavyweight Champion of the World without Cus D’Amato training him day in and day out?
Would I have been able to walk those one hundred steps without Mike pushing me to keep going?
Sometimes the great become even greater with a little assistance.
Life isn’t meant to be lived in a lone-wolf type way. It’s meant to be a symbiotic relationship between us and those we come in contact with.
Although it may seem like you don’t need or want help from anyone, sometimes it makes life better and easier for all parties involved when you accept the help.
Teamwork really does make the dream work. There’s no shame in asking for a little help.
Just remember to say thank you.
Jacob Barrett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org