It Takes a Village and a Bag of Chips

The warm water fell down around my neck and shoulders, attempting to melt away the tension from today stresses.

It wasn’t a particularly stressful day per se. There were a few moments of rush and quite a bit of time invested behind the wheel going to and from my grandparent's house. The real tension came from me. 

I’ve been mentally and emotionally exhausting myself from difficulties I’ve been facing, things I said yes to that I have todo, and things I would like to do but aren’t.

As the water gave its best college try to lift my spirits, I couldn’t seem to shake the numb, despairing stupor I found myself in. This wasn’t a new feeling, more like an old friend you don’t have anything in common with.

You see, as much as I want to take my problems and the resistance in my life and turn them into fuel to ‘prove them wrong’ and ‘show ‘em what I’m made of’, I generally tend to default to a hopeless and overwhelmed state instead. An energetic spirit is — like most things in life — developed by practice and honed by experience, just like learned helplessness is practice.  In The Power of Habits, Charles Duhigg writes about how if you want to change a habit, you have to replace it with something else. By identifying the trigger that causes a habit, you can then be aware of when it takes place and practice a different habit instead of defaulting to your normal one.

As my fingers started to puff up into little prunes and enough time passed that the water was starting to feel cold, a sign that the water heater had figuratively began to sing ‘closing time, one last call for...’, I ask myself the question: What am I doing wrong?

And the first answer that came to me was simply:

Relying too much on only myself.

I’m a strong proponent of if you want to create positive change in your life, no one is going to do it for you, you have to do it yourself.

Who's going to care more about your dream of being an actor than yourself? Who's going to put more hours into a startup than the founder?
The world doesn’t owe you anything. If you want change, you’ve got to create it.

But that doesn’t mean going it alone. Even if you could do everything you’ve set out to do by yourself, imagine how much farther you could go with a little help. The self-made hero — someone you admire — looks a lot more like a village-made hero when you start pulling back the layers of his or her life.  Catching a break, mentorships, advice from influential people, teachers, relationships, family, God… — help is always around you, you just have to ask for it. A restaurant isn’t going to bring you a glass of wine unless you ask for it. Why expect others to help you if you don’t ask?

As I stepped out of the shower, the room was still foggy but my mind was a little clearer. I didn’t cure all my problems but I asked a question and found a course of action I can follow.  Hope is not lost when you decided that there is always a way, always something you can try next. When you reliance on yourself buckles beneath you, asking for help gives you the opportunity to lean on others strength. Refusing help is refusing extra strength. As romantic as a self-made icon sounds, I’d rather be surrounded by people that care than surrounded by people and possessions that don’t. That bag of chips you’re eating your emotions with doesn’t care about you either. All it cares about is making sure your distracted and fat. There’s no shame in asking for help, the only shame is that you didn’t ask sooner.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursing,
— Josh Waggoner

Josh Waggoner