As a Canadian living in a cold and snowy city, one of my slogans is “I can’t always run but I can shovel!” Actually I don’t mind shovelling snow. I put some Christmas music on and go out enjoy the fresh air and the workout.
Not too long ago was the first big storm of the season here in Ottawa. At this time of year, shovelling is not just a sport, it’s an intense planning activity! See, I have a small lawn and long driveway which means I need to carefully place the snow in a way that will allow me to stack the snow all winter long without it crumbling down and burying me. 😉
Given my love for shovelling (this is at least true until the end of January), I like to shovel my neighbour’s driveway when I have time. So I started shovelling their driveway and then she came outside. She’s really sweet and she told me “you don’t have to do this, we should be the ones helping you”. Even when I explained that I had time and that it was a pleasure for me to help out, she insisted. I said “alright”, waited until she went inside and then continued to shovel their driveway as much as I could before she came back out. I felt like a kid looking over his shoulder so he wouldn’t get caught doing something bad and I have to say, it was kind of exciting!
Why did I feel bad?
Why was she so adamant about not letting me help her out? I think the root of the matter is individualism. Here I’m not referring to the social theory but the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant. There’s nothing wrong with being independent and self-reliant, they are very important character traits to acquire for someone to be successful at his work, parenting or camping. Think about it, if no one was self-reliant, it’d be impossible to find someone to count on. The question that really interests me is how can we get over individualism and start building communities?
Getting over individualism
Leave your pride behind. We all have pride, including me! We cannot do it all is a well known fact which we tend to forget and rarely apply. It’s okay to ask for help, it doesn’t mean you’re stupid or useless – it shows you have wisdom.
Learn to be vulnerable. No one is perfect, including me! That stings, doesn’t it? It doesn’t mean you need to air your dirty laundry out in public but practice being real. If more people would do that, I think life would get simpler and people would be happier, especially those who believe their problems are unique.
Be a leader. Don’t wait for someone else to start building a community. To get over individualism and build a community, we need you to lead, be real and courageous enough to ask for and give help.