Where Is Your Village?

I was on the phone with a friend, talking about living with anxiety and getting ready to go back to school. She admitted, “I’m scared I can’t do it. I won’t be able to balance school, work, and being social, all while trying to keep my anxiety in check.” I responded, “Well you can’t.”

Cue awkward silence.

I kept going, “Wait, wait, wait. Let me explain. I don’t mean you can’t do it at all. I mean you can’t do it alone. No one can.”

Does It Really Take a Village?

We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village.” But how often do we actually rely on that village?

In the old days, everyone in the village had his or her job. The baker baked her loaves of bread; the butcher supplied the meat for supper. The officer kept the peace; the seamstress wove clothes; the doctor took care of every cough, sneeze, and ailment. Everyone had a role.

It didn’t matter if I was a terrible baker because that wasn’t my job. My job was to do something else. I relied on everyone around me to do their respective jobs and do them well, just as they relied on me to do so.

Unrealistic Expectations

We do not expect a surgeon to spend eight hours in the operating room in solitude. We do not expect one person to put out a fire. A quarterback doesn’t walk on to the field alone.

No one in the villages of the past, nor in occupations today, was or is expected to do it alone.

So why do we feel the need to do the hardest things by ourselves?

We live in a world where there is a stigma on asking for help, yet there is no prize in doing anything alone.

Afraid to Ask for Help

I am often scared to ask for help. I feel like I am supposed to be this smart, capable, have-it-all-together super-woman. If I were to ask for help with homework or with dinner, I would be disappointing the person I am asking.

This, in fact, is not the case. But I learned that the hard way.

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Reaching Out

There is a reason I was talking to my friend about anxiety, just two years prior I had been in the same position.

For about eight months, I tried to tough it out and figure it out on my own. Go on more runs, visit Adoration more frequently, keep up with my school work and tests. It wasn’t working. When I would talk to my mom about it, she more than once gently suggested I visit the on-campus counseling center. I held out for months, afraid of what might happen in counseling but more afraid of what my family, classmates, and closest friends would think if they found out.

I finally did go, and have been for two years now. I had to learn to ask for help, to lean on those around me.

First it was just my mom. Then it was my mom and my counselor. Eventually, I told my closest and oldest friends, still scared they would judge me, think negatively me, or no longer want to be my friend because I had finally admitted that I could not do it all on my own. Their responses quelled all those fears. Rather than judge me, they supported me. Rather than think negatively of me, they cheered that I had accepted help when I needed it.

A Village Takes Time

Your village doesn’t have to be the whole village immediately. It can be just one person. And when you’re ready, invite one more person in.

Jesus said “I will be with you until the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Sometimes I don’t always see or feel or hear Him nearby. It’s taken me awhile to figure out, in those moments, just exactly where He is. He’s in all the people around me: my roommate when I’m having a difficult time with a new concept from class, my sister offering to get coffee when I just need to get out of the house and let my mind reset. It takes practice, humility, and sometimes vulnerability to actually lean on your village.

So ask for help editing your resume.

Text the neighbor for help with your kids after school.

Seek professional counseling if you think you might need it.

Be open with where you are at currently and what you need help and support in. Because no one is asking you to do it alone.

Who is in your village? How do you lean on them vulnerably for support?

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Renee Setter is a Nursing student at Benedictine College, pursuing her heart’s desire to care for the mind, body, and soul of each person she comes across, one clinical at a time. She is a lover of all things Christmas, coffee, and Gilmore Girls. You can often find her reading or knitting on a rainy day.

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