On loneliness and independence - Carenote

June 10, 2019 2 min read

There is a social stigma around dependency.

We’re taught to grow up to be strong and independent, to find our way in the world, and to stay that way. Despite this, we fail to recognize that reliance on others, in one way or another, is a consistent narrative throughout our lives, with our parents, schoolmates, colleagues, family and friends.

You may believe you should be able to manage on your own, to overcome theneed for others by yourself, but this isn’t what loneliness is about. Whether or not we want to admit it, we all crave andneed connection with others, and it has nothing to do with our ability to be independent. You shouldn’t feel like you have to make a choice between feeling forgotten and feeling like a burden. Like any new phase or transition in our lives, getting older is more easily adjusted to when we have support, some form of structure, scaffolding for which we can brace ourselves against when we need to. While support can come in a variety of shapes and forms, simply having someone to text or who calls to ask about our day can make a real difference.  

At any age, there are emotional hazards in making independence such a bastion of our identities.The moment you ask for help is the moment you’re no longer the one who ‘does it all’.As we get older, the downside of independence can encompass both emotional and physical ramifications andthe value of independence shifts, almost from a sense of competency to a source of pride. Admitting loneliness can jeopardize independence.

While it’s great to be able to do things yourself, independence can be isolating. Doing everything for yourself, by yourself, is a different game when you’re no longer going to work everyday or socializing with friends at the same velocity as you once were. Aging is particularly difficult because our bodies start to find ways in which to tell us that they’re not as spry or resilient as they once were, which can be troublesome for our minds which are playing in the same league that they have been our whole lives and still resolve to be independent.

It’s helpful to keep in mind that there are diminishing returns on independence. We spend our whole lives working hard to achieve independence and refining our ability to do things on our own, though we need to acknowledge that after a certain point, our independence needs a counterbalance. Asking for help in a world where we’re supposed to do it all, though it seems counterintuitive, is fundamental in preserving our wellbeing and quality of life.As a society we need to better acknowledge thatreaching out to others is not a sign of weakness, particularly when it’s emotional instead of practical support that we seek.