By: Kalyn Wilson
“I just don’t like talking about my feelings,” a friend told me as tears slowly started to roll down her face. “I always encourage others to tell me theirs, but I hate to talk about mine.”
Although I know this conversation all too well, I hesitated to embrace her. When she stated that truth - a truth I like to believe is a universal truth for most women and human beings in general - I immediately thought about the week I had just had: one in desperate need of support.
I didn’t need anyone to sit next to me while on a self-proclaimed death bed, but I did hate inching my way to the grocery store and carrying back pounds of groceries up grueling hills in the midday heat, stressing about how I looked and crying on my pillow in the midst of a midnight crisis. And I did most of this all alone. The catch is I didn’t have to.
I asked one of my friends to take me to the store, but I felt like I was bothering her, so I told her never mind. Times during the week when I really wanted a listening ear or another opinion, I just shook it off, stared in my mirror and put on the “my-own-best-friend” hat because I didn’t want to disturb anybody.
I didn’t want to ask for the help and support I needed because I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone else. It’s funny because whenever I’m in a position to help another, I pretty much take it. So why do I feel so guilty about asking for it?
Going back to this familiar conversation, all I could do was tell my friend not to be like me. All I could do was to be the friend to her that I pray my friends are to me: unbothered by and welcoming of her need for support and a listening ear.
My mother told me this great quote the other day: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go with others.” That speaks volumes. If this world was meant to be tackled alone, then things like friendships, relationships and communities would not exist. Often times, the difference between welcoming interdependent situations and unnecessarily tough independent ones is that we are too busy walking around trying to be “strong,” feeling like needing the help from another is taboo.
Maybe it’s harder for women to ask for help because of the fear of appearing weak and vulnerable to a world that sometimes denies our right to be whatever “feminine” is supposed to be (another argument for another day). Maybe it’s because there aren’t enough of us out there who let others know we are here for them. Maybe it’s a weird combination of both.
And I’m not talking about nights when your friend needs a ride to the North Pole, a hot meal and relationship advice. I’m talking moments like when my friend just wanted to be open and sad about her fears of the future, or when someone expresses how tired and stressed they are and you’re the one who convinces them to take it easy, or when you just talk on the phone with no other objective but to laugh. Sometimes, it’s about being there in the smallest way. And sometimes, all it takes is you asking for that small moment for you to get it.
So, let’s be better friends - to ourselves and to our friends. Let’s ask for support when we need it. Let’s give support when it’s needed. Let’s be the beginning of the end of the epidemic of stress and depression because we stepped up as women, for ourselves and for each other.