“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”
— Bob Merrill (Funny Girl)
I always thought this quote was nuts. Lucky?! What if you need people and they let you down? To me, people who don’t need people were the luckiest.
Part of it comes from growing up an Air Force brat. Every few years during my childhood, we’d move someplace new. That meant starting over with all new schools, neighbors, classmates, friends, clubs, stores… everything.
Most of the other kids were in the same situation, which helped. Kids who move all the time recognize the value of forming friendships with new people quickly, before one of them leaves again. But still, this was before text messages and facebook. After either of us moved away, most of those people dropped out of my life after a few letters.
Growing up that way teaches you to be resourceful and independent. I think these are two of my best traits–I wouldn’t trade them. But it also teaches you that you can’t count on anything, or anyone but yourself. At least, that’s what it taught me. It usually took me a year or so to find the people I could really relate to. Another year to get close, and you’ve only got one year left for a great friendship before it’s time to move on again. And that’s assuming the other person sticks around that long.
It probably sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not. It was a great life, and I attribute most of my strength to growing up that way.
I’m just saying it set me up with a mistaken idea about the world. I always thought the ideal situation was to be totally independent, do everything yourself, and not need anybody. But lately, I’m discovering that the opposite is true.
A few years back, during my darkest hours, I really leaned hard on my friends for the first time. I don’t know that it was a conscious choice so much as a necessity. They came through for me in a big way, and we got so much closer! I don’t know if they’d appreciate being mentioned by name all over the internet–some people are uncomfortable with that–but Mom, Daddy, D.S., J.F., J.C., D.R., and E.J., thank you! I don’t know what I would do without you!
Even when it’s not hard times, I’m finding how great it is to let other people in. I’ve always been afraid to get involved with people, or even to have them look at me much. I was convinced that if they got a good look, they’d see through me and realize I didn’t know what I was doing. I don’t have it all figured out, I’m not perfect, I don’t have it all under control.
I’ve discovered that nobody is perfect. Nobody has it all figured out, and nobody expects me to, either. If I thought I was fooling anyone all those years, what a joke!
I’ve also discovered that people are nice. They want you to succeed. They’re happy to help. (It feels good to help someone! I know that, but somehow I thought it was different for other people. It’s not.)
Over the past year, in good times and bad, here are just a few of the awesome people who have helped me out in one way or another. I’ve grown exponentially because of them, not just by the things they’ve done for me, but also by the way they’ve changed my whole mindset about people and what it means to depend on them.
- Jonathan Mead
- Lach Cotter
- Jen Gresham
- Stacey Curnow
- Amanda Oaks
- Mary Jaksch
- Jenny Blake
- Brigitte Lyons
- Karol Gajda
- Adam Baker
- Ash Ambirge
- Ali Luke
- Molly Mahar
- Jack Bennett
- Dave Ursillo
- Ev’Yan Nasman
- Farnoosh Brock
- Tyler Tervooren
- Tim Brownson
- Karen Walrond
- Jonathan Fields
- Pat Flynn
- Corbett Barr
- Fabian Kruse
- Ethan Waldman
- Harley Roxanne
Big thanks to everyone on this list, plus everyone I’ve forgotten. (I know I’m forgetting someone, and I’m sure I’ll feel horrible about it when I realize! I apologize in advance.)
Big thanks to you, too. I am continually blown away by the awesome comments, emails, and encouragement you give me. 17000 Days would be nothing without you.
Many people already know that people are awesome and don’t really need to hear it from me. But as you’re reading this, if you notice that you don’t really have anyone to call on if you need a bit of advice or another opinion on your work, someone to bounce ideas off of, or someone to tell you it’s going to be all right when you’re despairing at 2 am, I urge you to change that.
The amazing part is it’s easier than I ever dreamed! I swear Twitter was built to be the perfect crutch for the people-impaired, which I have been for years. It’s the lowest-risk, easiest way to reach out to someone and start building a relationship from absolute zero.
As you find other people who resonate with you or who are doing similar things to what you’re doing, reply to their tweets. If you like their stuff, retweet it. Start interacting with people and see who starts taking root. If the other person needs something and you can give it, offer your help. Let the relationship build over time and be willing to be vulnerable. Not everyone will be a good match for you, but a few people will stick, and you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes in your life.
It feels so great to have people you can count on and the synergy that comes with working together. That’s really become obvious to me as I’ve put together Beyond Fear, and as I worked on the Only72.com sale back in June. What I could have done alone is nothing compared to the awesomeness that is produced when people get together. This was a huge surprise to me–I always hated group projects in school! But it’s totally different having collaborators, as opposed to freeloaders,ill in your group.
I could go on all day about the great ways people have helped me. What about you? If there’s a time when someone came through for you or helped you when you least expected it, please share in the comments! I love stories like that.