I had a dream. It was a goal I set out to achieve after I graduated from college. 

I would move to different cities. I would end relationships. Nothing was going to get in my way. And, I was definitely not accepting any kind help from others. I had to do this on my own.

I needed my dream to become a reality of my own accord. I needed to be self-made.

Deeply engrained in the history of the United States is a cultural ideal of a “self-made man.” Someone whose success lies within the individuals himself, not from outside conditions such as inherited fortune, family connections, or other privileges. 

I remember my first apartment after college. I was moving across the state and my generous mother was accompanying me on the journey. We were doing a pre-move—some apartment cleaning—when I saw a box in the corner. It was a brand-new vacuum. It was one of a few other purchases she made to help me. 

I blew up. “Mom, stop getting me things. I need to do this on my own!” I screamed. 

I so desperately wanted my story to reflect the American dream.

I would take the $24K salaried job in a small town and work my way up the ranks to become a big-city TV news reporter. I would eat ramen everyday to do it. The story was filled with many “I’s.” 

In my mid-twenties, an interview of one of my celebrity crushes caught my eye. This time, it wasn’t because of my attraction to him, but because of what he was saying. 

“My story is the average story, it was just filled with special people,” Pharrell Williams, the Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, and artist said. 

Nothing is done alone. We are all shaped by the people and experiences we are exposed to throughout our lives

The reporter responded. “You are giving everybody else credit.”

“Well, what am I without them?” Pharrell retorted. 

What Pharrell knew that I did not was that nothing is done alone. We are all shaped by the people and experiences we are exposed to throughout our lives. And, this truth doesn’t take away from the hard work and steps we take to build our dreams. 

Today, I have redefined what it means to me to be self-made. 

Being a self-made—in my case—female means knowing life’s successes is a combination of grit and grace.

It’s putting in the hours, doing the work, and creating opportunities for yourself. It also includes removing one’s pride and accepting the helpful hands that cross your path, listening to their wisdom, receiving their generosity, and asking for help when you need it. 

None of us do life alone. It’s better to embrace it than to fight it. 

Author: Lindsey Wopschall: Lindsey’s personal mission is to uplift, enlighten and encourage. She uplifts people by telling compelling stories. She enlightens by sharing thought provoking ideas and concepts. She encourages people to become their best self. She’s often called an inspirational cheerleader.

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