By: Danielle Wilson
When I was 23, I moved to a new city and got my first apartment by myself. Fortunately, I had several friends who were just a little bit older than me who took me under their wings and gave me rides, invited me over for dinner, and made sure I wasn’t alone on my birthday. When I broke up with my boyfriend, my cousin found me a roommate. When I lost my job, several friends offered me a place to stay. Whenever I’ve moved, I’ve had people willing to help. When I started new teaching jobs, I had senior teachers to look out for me and share lesson plans. Now as a parent, I feel like I have a literal team of parent mentors to answer my questions about eating, and sleep training, and to shower me with more hand me downs than I could ever use. Throughout my adult life, with each new challenge and pitfall, I had someone to call. I am extremely lucky.
Throughout these years, as I’ve accepted the help and advice of others, I’ve always felt guilty about my lack of ability to reciprocate or “pay back” these friends for their inconvenience and kindness. Especially as a twenty-something, my life constantly in flux, I just didn’t have much to offer. I still worry that these helpers, especially those who I’ve since lost touch with, never knew how much their help truly meant to me. Helpers— I think about you often. Thank you.
Now in my thirties, I have resources with which to help others: a house of my own, family dinners, a stable partner, and some life/teaching experience. I’ve been able to share lesson plans and perspective to some of the younger teachers (although now I also appreciate the fact that they’re sharing their fresh ideas with me); I can offer company to friends who are going through breakups and divorces; I can answer questions for my friends who are pregnant and having babies of their own. I can watch my friend’s kids and send hand me downs to another mom who needs them. I’m happy to help however I can because I know that when I was in need, there were Good Samaritans to help me without ever needing me to pay them back.
A good friend of mine is going through something pretty terrible. I’ve been her sounding board for the last few months, and although I have little advice, I’ve tried to just be there for her as a listener. This week, she thanked me, worrying that she was a burden.
I’d like to think that although I can’t repay those who have helped me, I can now in turn be the one to help others, and sort of pay back the universe for sending me my village when I needed them. It’s important for us to feel like we can ask for help and depend on each other without the expectation that someone will directly return the favor. We all have times in our lives when we must depend on the help of others and, conversely, when we are able to provide support to others. It’s my time to help.