What exactly does it mean to be independent? I am pretty sure I have had it wrong my entire life. You see, I have operated under the belief that to be independent, I must never need to ask any one for anything, under any circumstance. From a young age, life had taught me that to ask for help is to admit weakness which would give away the upper hand. So, I learned not to ask.

This is not my first time being released from the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry (ADCRR). I managed to do life on the installment plan and gave the ADCRR a total of 17 years of my life, over 5 different terms. Which means I have also been released 5 different times. I left, the first 4 times, full of hope that this time would be different. Yet I only had the same coping skills as before, which led to incarceration time and again. And I still had the same way of thinking: asking for help is a sign of weakness.

May 14, 2018, I walked out of the ADCRR after a 5-year stretch with a spring in my step and determination to be different. I put into practice the skills I learned through self-reflection, job training and Arouet workshops (pre- and post-release). It requires discipline to go against your independent instincts and to allow yourself to trust that others know what it takes to be successful and that they genuinely want their ceiling to be your floor. No strings attached. But I did both.

A friend shared with me, shortly after I was released, that the secret to adulting is knowing when to ask for help. I have taken those words and shared them with anyone who will listen because: GENIUS!!!

Life is a roller coaster, no one ever promised it would be easy. Especially if you are a little late to the wonderful world of adulthood. You may ask yourself (or is that just me?): Did they really mean for me call whenever? Will I be a bother? Do I really need help?

I will be blunt because I would appreciate the same: Those thoughts are your “old self” being afraid that your “new self” will stick. To ask for help is to be at your most vulnerable because you are admitting you cannot do everything alone. That is a scary spot to be in!

We are showing pure courage when we – despite fearing being viewed as less than or weak – ask for help anyway. When we take a chance and try something different. When we put into action the plans, we promised ourselves we would. This is when change happens and that is the very definition of courage.

Sometimes a little courage is all you need!

(Virginia is a transition, volunteer, and Arouet Storyteller. If you are interested in sharing your story contact us today!)