By Samantha McKenzie
We all enter this world in similar fashion: We announce our arrival crying at the top of our lungs, demanding to be nourished and insisting to be nurtured by anyone available. It doesn’t take us long to nestle into the protocols of newborn privilege and take in the joys of being swaddled, cuddled and wrapped safely in the arms of another human being. Our first introduction to care and kindness.
We don’t stop needing just because we grow up. Our needs will often shift, but the basic principles remain the same. So we won’t need to digest pureed baby food anymore, but we will need the benefits of a home-cooked meal after a long day at work. It’s perfectly normal to need others and it’s actually perfectly human.
“Need is not weakness, need is need,” said actor Will Smith in the movie Concussion. Smith, who plays the real-life character of forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, offers his new female border money upon her arrival to his home. The kind gesture is met with resistance until Smith’s character explains to his guest that he once needed help too. “Need,” he continued, “is just need.” A valuable lesson taught in a brief moment.
I’m not exactly sure when this word became taboo in our communities. It could be a side effect of some other societal ill. It’s definitely the spawn of false pride and our new-found inclination to be independent. We probably should have seen it coming when we realized we no longer knew our neighbors by name. Maybe we should have clued in when all of our conversations began with the word “I.” Or should we have gotten alarmed when we realized our tithing at church on Sundays was the only time we offered anything to anyone else? Did we truly buy into the “I got mine, you better get yours” mantras? Did we really?
Beyond our basic need for food, clothing and shelter, we have much deeper needs that can’t be fixed with money or material possessions. We have emotional needs that need supporting as well. As we grow up, we experience a myriad of emotions and find out that we do need others to help us along the way. We need confidants and companions. We need exercise partners and travel buddies. We need spiritual guides and people who help us put our puzzle pieces together (the right way this time). We need a larger circle of trustworthy friends to help us reach our goals.
As we move from one station in life to another, remember that it’s okay to need.
I need a babysitter and a financial coach. I need a fitness trainer and a companion.
I need help.
Get used to saying what you need.
I need you. You need me. We need each other.