Occasionally as a pre-workout warmup at my gym we have to carry someone from one end of the floor to the other. Jump on, piggy-back, school yard style carrying someone. It’s a terrifying concept. As someone who is 5’2 stretching, I’m always convinced that even the smallest person launching themselves onto my back is going to cause my knees to buckle and us to collapse into an awkward heap of limbs. It’s an activity no one likes. If you’re small you fear it and if you’re bigger you feel self-conscious. It’s lose - lose in every way.
I was scrolling through my Instagram feed towards the end of last year when I came across a post by a friend reflecting on his 2019. In the middle of his comment he had written ‘I hope you know some people who carry you, and I hope you have the honour of carrying them’.
While my traumatised brain went straight to my gym warmups and instant disagreement, I nevertheless hit ‘save’ on the post, as the message of it sunk in.
I should admit that I’m not particularly good at letting people carry me. After being single and living in a foreign country for the majority of my post-university years (going on seven), I’m not sure whether my fierce independence is a true value, or something I’ve adopted as a defence mechanism. It’s often easier to pretend that you love being strong and independent when you don’t actually have a choice.
However even when you do have people around you with the desire to help, it can take humility to let them do so.
The fear of being vulnerable is a huge deterrent in many areas of life. Letting yourself be vulnerable in relationships, in creative expression or the work you produce can be incredibly scary. Exposing yourself to what comes with letting other people help you is often no different.
We fear becoming a burden or looking weak and unable to manage. We worry about weaknesses coming to the surface and that being used against us. Not least, we fear the very thought of actually asking for help and being rejected.
It’s scary stuff!
Yet opening up to be ‘carried’ by someone else is freeing, and allowing others to see your weaknesses is a very practical expression of honesty. It’s a way of saying, this is who I truly am, not the perfect image I might think I need to show you.
Vulnerability is a true paradox. It opens us up to the deepest hurt, yet without it we can’t experience real connection or love.
Accepting help also allows other people to love you. We all know the saying that it is better to give than to receive. When we say we don’t need help, we deny others the chance to experience the joy that comes from giving to others.
One of our most innate desires is the wish to feel needed. We all want to know that there are people around us who need us! Whether it’s for friendship, love, community or a more practical outpouring of help, being needed gives us purpose and a sense of belonging. When we allow others to help us we are actually giving them these gifts!
More than ever before, we live in a society that tells us we have to have it all together. Our lives should have purpose, we should be improving, our relationships should be on track and we have to look good at all times while doing it! We are often unintentionally encouraged to be strong and hide our flaws. Who hasn’t been told to ‘fake it till you make it’?
In response, I want to spend this year being a little more intentionally vulnerable. To allow other people to see that I don’t have it all under control.
I might still avoid the piggy-back warmups at the gym, but I would like to see if I can let a few more people ‘carry me’ in 2020. I’d like to think that as I let other people do that for me, I will be able to do the same for them, and our relationships will be all the stronger for it.
Anna hails from Australia but lives and works in South East Asia. She enjoys travel, good coffee and getting to hang out with awesome people from around the world.