Is self sufficiency a myth?
I pride myself on being a storyteller. Giving you all the information you need, in an entertaining language. I am proficient in speaking to ensure that I reach my targeted audience. Sometimes things are just too intellectually extra for me and I feel like the point of it all is missed because of the fancy jargon. Of course, we’re all pretty smart people here. But nobody wants to be forced to put on their cognitive thinking cap when attempting to let the imagination roam. As a creative aka child at heart, I am one of those people.
So, when I want to get an insightful message across in the most primitive manner, I find a way to fit it into a story. It works better for me that way. So here goes. While in the mentally finalizing stages of leaving my abusive ex, (I can now talk freely because the case was dismissed) I got really deep into things that helped me understand the psychology behind certain behaviors. The truth is, even after living through my mothers domestic disputes I was allowing myself to be a part of things I KNEW better than. But I still engaged. I was wondering if somewhere down the line I had bumped my head because I was utterly confused and honestly ashamed at my own choices.
So where do you find the best information about things of this nature? Books. Lots and lots of books. Self-help, personal development, reframing the mind, however you want to word it, this is the way to transform what you think and your perception of such. And being unusually open to the advice of those who have been in your shoes before. They may be strangers to you, but not to your situation.
On my journey to therapy and understanding, my therapist introduced me to a researcher named Dr. Brene’ Brown. I was instantly intrigued because she sounded Black and I always want to hear what another Black woman has to say, especially about growth in all facets. She turned out not to be, but what I learned from her was still just as helpful. In my article about the tv show Pose and how it showed us the benefits of vulnerability, I talk about Dr. Brown's teachings.
My therapist showed me one of her Ted Talks and my natural hunger for knowledge and truths lead me down a rabbit hole of her work. I was told to find her book entitled, The Gifts of Imperfection. It gives lots of insight on how to pause being who you think you're supposed to be and start being who you actually are. A concept that I feel like I struggle with daily.
I come from a family where the women are hustlers and the men are kinda just there, eventually picking up the pieces to their lives once they've hit the dark pits of rock bottom. The women have raised their children, while going to school and working full time career jobs. But of course, life got the best of them and they were forced to put their dreams on hold. Or they didn't believe in themselves enough to even go after the dream.
So, they work their decently salaried jobs and remain comfortable. I’ve never been too concerned with doing things “right” as much as I've prided myself on doing them differently. So not being a teenage mom was different for me. Going away to college right out of high school and graduating was different for me. Moving to an entirely new state by myself was different for me. Not better, just different.
In all of that, I was doing what I wanted to do, but I was still being the person my family wanted me to be. I wanted to remain the “golden child” and have them all fawn over my accolades. Until I got older and life started putting its foot where the sun didn't shine. I was forced to break down and transition. I was doing what I wanted, how I wanted, where I wanted to do so, and it was hard as hell. My mother hated that I was so far away and needed help that she couldn't give me. Unbeknownst to her, that was exactly why I moved away, to force myself to stand on my own feet and not need her help.
Self-sufficiency was my ultimate goal. Not needing her or anyone else and being able to give within reason, made me feel like I had reached my pique in adulthood. So, when I began to read this book and she expressed that self-sufficiency was a myth and explained that going at it all alone was a cultural set back, I was confused, intrigued, but very confused.
We (humans) take a very prideful stance when we feel like we’re comfortable in the way life is working for us, we even go so far as to make sure others are ok in their lives. We reach out to our loved ones, family and friends and go out of way to ensure their happiness and wellbeing. We feel safe, so we reach out to assist. We all have this very “share the wealth” mindset. However, when the tables are turned and we just so happen to be on the receiving end of help, we consider ourselves less than, unworthy and lacking somewhere in life. We feel so good about giving help, but taking help seems wrong. As if it's completely irrational and irresponsible to be in need at one point or another in life.
Why is that?
Why do we get on our white horse and feel like we can save the world when life is good, but we shun ourselves when life changes and we have to adjust? Is it because at that point we feel like we’ve failed and don't deserve assistance? We feel like we’re always supposed to have it “together” that once we reach whatever level of success, we’ve solidified in our minds that that's where life ends and there’s no change to follow. These beliefs are unrealistic. The only thing constant in life is change and death. And if you aren't dead, you are destined to endure some sort of change. Surely as you are up, you can and probably will be down. But joy comes in the morning, up, comes in the morning.
Lately, I've been reading lots of cultural history on how other nationalities help each other in the times when Black people especially, feel like you should be doing things completely on your own. Hispanic, Caucasian, Indian, African and even Caribbean families all pitch in and lend their shoulders to their family members when it's time to make any big purchases like homes and cars and they don't hesitate to make life easier for when their families decide to start families. Hell, sometimes all of the families live in one big home together. In India, the parents take the children to their home countries for the 1st year to assist with cultural knowledge in addition to daycare.
Chinese people do the same and return the child when they are of school age to advance the culture in their households. That's their tradition, they don't view it as a handout or even a helping hand, it is simply a duty to the people they share love for. These cultures don't stress the myths of “self-sufficiency”, they actually shine light on the opposite values. When help is being offered to you, you take it with gratitude and continue to soar in life because you are not forced to struggle alone. So if one was to ask me the question of whether or not self-sufficiency is a myth, I’d tell them yes because things change, life changes, people change, and a lot of them we have no control over.
Hence 2020, no one could have prepared for this pandemic and socio-economic crisis, but here we are. Millions lost their high salaried, top position jobs and those that were “essential” faced a health crisis every day. Help is needed and we should do our part to take a different approach to it because it's not going anywhere.