My parents, being the awesome people they are, raised me to be completely independent.  I viewed complete independence as being the greatest characteristic a person could have.  I never asked for help, even when I needed it because I didn’t want to appear weak or needy.  Somewhere along the line, I think it was in college, I started to value a bit of dependence but I didn’t know where to start or how to change.  It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I am today, happily (although only partially) dependent on the people around me. 

Life for Neanderthals wasn’t easy (stay with me, there is a point to this).  During the ice age, there wasn’t a lot of food to go around and the food that was available had to be hunted (and their hunting practices were dangerous to say the least – spear hunting at close range).   If you couldn’t hunt, you didn’t eat, right?  No, actually – evidence from Shanidar Cave suggests that the old and injured survived despite probably not being able to thrust a spear into an animal while running beside it.  Researchers found that even substantially limiting injuries had time to completely heal, suggesting that they must have had a community that took care of the sick and injured.  What helped Neanderthals to survive 100,000 years wasn’t luck – it was community, or in other words mutually beneficial dependence.  Humans are the same, really – we need other humans in order to survive.  A little dependence can make life a lot easier.

So how does a modern girl in our society unlearn fierce independence and accept a little helpful dependence every now and again?  Step by step.  I started with trying to ask for help when I knew that help would make completing a project happen faster or more efficiently.  Yes, I can move an apartment full of boxes and furniture to a new location completely alone but it would take a tremendous amount of time, money in truck rental fees, and I would be so tired at the end of the ordeal that I wouldn’t be able to unpack and might even need medical attention.  Accepting help in that situation means it gets done a lot faster and with better results.  Also, if a coworker offers to do something for an event you’re putting together, even if it’s a simple task, accept that help because it frees you up to tackle other issues that will invariably arise. 

I make it a point to practice a little dependence each week.  If someone offers to open a door for you, let them, even if you’re not carrying anything.  If someone offers an arm while you’re trying to gracefully clomp down stairs in 3 inch heels, accept the help graciously – you’d be a lot more dependent in a neck brace.

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