A few years ago, a dear friend of mine had a fabulous “pageant platform” that she was promoting about being your own best self-advocate when it came to your personal physical and mental health. Her clever slogan was — “If not you, then who?” Indeed. I have always followed this logic, no matter what situation I happened to be in. Good, bad, ugly, and everything in between — I learned from a very young age that I didn’t want to rely on anyone other than myself. “If not you, then who?” was a question that has been usually met with silence regarding “Then who?” The minute you rely on others, you are usually disappointed and let down.
I’m not saying I don’t have a support system around me or that I have no one who loves me. However, at the end of the day, I have always relied on me and me alone to be my own rock, my own best friend, and even my own worst enemy at times. I am a fierce advocate for others, but I don’t want others to advocate for me — I want to do that myself. This attitude has resulted in some negativity throughout my life. Adjectives such as “stubborn”, “hard-headed”, “loner”, and “aloof” get thrown my way, along with the reputation of “not playing well with others” or “not being a team player”. I prefer to think of myself as “independent”, “self-reliant”, “tough” and “capable”. I admit, I am not a fan of group activities and the thought of an “open” office space turns my stomach, but I am also more than equipped to be a valuable part of any team.
I have people in my life who seem to never be alone. They travel through life with siblings, friends, parents, and colleagues constantly by their sides both literally and figuratively. Entourages that see that every step they take through life is one that is safe, supported, and celebrated. I am the girl who went by herself to pick out her wedding dress (all three times I have been a bride), and the girl that also went by herself to get divorced (just once). In high school, one of my best friends was killed when I was a senior. I went to the funeral — alone. I do life, for all intents and purposes, by myself and on my own, even when I am in a room filled with people. I am simultaneously jealous of and horrified by adults who are still running to their parents for guidance and affirmation and, well, parenting. My parents raised me to be someone who didn’t need others, lest I be perceived as weak or useless. I am neither of these things. You just didn’t ask for help — you should be resourceful and intuitive and figure it out for your damn self. Case closed.
So, when you see that girl who you are tempted to feel sorry for when she is out shopping by herself for her wedding dress or by herself when life is less than rosy — stop yourself. Instead, see her as she would like you to see her: confident, self-reliant, and just jaded enough to know that she would be foolish to rely on anyone except herself.