Monday, October 20, 2008


Strength to me has for a long time been equated with self-sufficiency. Strong people get things done and don't ask for help. Too long I have thought this way. I always aspired to be a strong person and so did not develop a habit of asking for help. Luckily, over the past few years I have begun to realize that asking for help does not make one weak. Some things are just not feasible without assistance. In many cases the outcome of just about any project can be improved with another's input, even if that input is just a suggestion not a physical action. When a person is locked into their own perspective of things they are limited by the scope of their own knowledge and experience. Another person's input into the situation adds a different perspective and the combination of perspectives can bring to light a solution or idea that would not be considered otherwise.

I shake by head in disbelief as I write this; disbelief at being the one to say such things. As soon as (and for many years after) I read Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" in high school I was in love with the idea of individualism. In her world the only limitation to a person's potential was their own lack of motivation and effort. An individual was enough to achieve anything of their own choosing. It took me many years to realize that this kind of blind arrogance is actually detrimental. Not utilizing other people's knowledge, experience and capabilities may give you a sense of satisfaction at having achieved something all on your own, but it also prevents you from achieving something greater than what you alone are capable of. So I learned that asking for help is not weakness, in most cases its just plain smart. Having said that, after many years of not asking for help it is hard to break the habit. Being a smart, strong and capable person I often choose to struggle rather than ask for help. And needless to say, sometimes end up wasting a lot of time trying to complete, learn, figure out, solve or otherwise accomplish something which would be much more speedy with someone else's help. Sometimes I just need a reminder. So today I got one: I have a cold and feel so weak that its pathetic. I could barely climb the subway steps on my way to class this morning. But feeling this way made me remember that asking for help is OK sometimes. So I finally got around to posting a question on a online forum, a question that's been bugging me for some time and to which I could not find a satisfactory answer. Lo and behold people replied to my question! I don't know why, but I'm genuinely surprised at the kindness of people and their willingness to be helpful; it makes me happy. So today I don't mind being weak, because it helped me to let go of my attachment to self-sufficiency, and thus lead me to the answer to my question.

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