The only person you can rely on is yourself

“The only person you can rely on is yourself, so technically we are all alone.”

These were the sentiments a friend shared with me over a glass of wine. It wasn’t a wallowing ‘woe is me’, or a depressed statement, it was merely shared as fact, as if she had just told me it was raining.

She went on to say that no matter what, no matter how long people have been in our lives for, who they are, we can never rely on anybody else, because eventually someone will let you down…

I understood.

And I agree. In part…

“The only person you can rely on is yourself”

Nothing in this life is guaranteed. People may come and go throughout life, there will always be someone who lets us down, situations change & can shatter our plans in a heartbeat.

So, the most we can do is to be the best version of ourselves; act with authenticity and integrity in any given moment and in this way, we become the most reliable force in our lives.

But some people take this statement and run with it, leaving them to build up barriers to protect themselves because they truly believe they cannot trust anyone else, that they are alone in this life.

I understand how easy it is to hold this viewpoint; when you feel let down time and time again, the natural reaction is to want to close off

However, here is a hard lesson I have learnt along the way –

If assumptions are mother of all fuck ups, then expectations are the father of all soul-destroying heart ache.

Every great disappointment I have faced, every heartache, hurt, betrayal is when I have placed my own expectations on someone else. While some things I consider basic common courtesy or human decency, the fact remains — they are still MY expectations.

We each have our own set of guiding principles in life, from the small — show up on time, be kind, be genuine, to the big — don’t lie, steal or cheat… but the second we place our set of expectations on someone else, we are setting ourselves up to be hurt, because as my friend said — nothing and nobody in this life is guaranteed.

So, all we can do is hold ourselves to our highest standard and when it comes to others — hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

This isn’t a ‘get out of jail free’ card either. It doesn’t mean we become pushovers, we still have our standards of behaviours, which helps us to create boundaries of what we are and are not willing to accept from others. It simply means that we stop putting ourselves in a position to be let down and hurt when our expectations are not met.

So yes, the only person we can rely on is ourselves.

But…

We are definitely not alone.

Placing no expectations on others, leaves us open to connect.

Whenever I have travelled solo, I rely on myself, I do not expect anyone to help, though I always put myself in situations to connect and am always amazed.

Last week I travelled from Croatia to London, it was 15 hours in transit — a 5-hour bus ride, connecting bus, 2 flights, a train and a cab.

During that time, I had two women at the help centre be ridiculously unhelpful, I was told my carry-on luggage was too big just before boarding (not at the check-in desk) and my friend I was meant to be staying with messaged to say her housemate no longer wanted me there…

Needless to say, it was a long day.

However, had I let all of this piss me off, I would have shut down and missed the connections that came next. After being outright refused help by two women at the ‘help desk’, as I walked outside the building (clearly looking a little lost), a man came up to me and not only pointed me in the right direction, but walked me to where I needed to get my next bus from. He apologized for the fact there were no signs (Zagreb Bus Station) and said with a warm laugh “welcome to the Balkans”, winked and walked away.

The same attendant at the airport who told me my bag was too big and almost didn’t let me go on, then performed an ‘about turn’ and did everything in his power to get me on the flight with my luggage — if I had lost my shit at him, there is no way he would have changed is attitude and tried to help me.

Having my accommodation cancelled last minute was definitely not ideal, but it didn’t take long for other friends to come to my aid and offer up their places. In the meantime, I booked a hotel and enjoyed a long hot shower and relaxing first night, which is just what I needed. It also meant I ended up staying with a good friend who I would have seen very little of otherwise.

My week carried on in this same theme.

Everywhere I turned someone was there to help or just to offer up a kind word, a smile or even share their story with me. I didn’t use my phone while I was out which left me vulnerable at times, but it also left me wide open to connect with all those around me. I had zero expectations on others and while technically I was ‘alone’ in the big city, I felt anything but alone.

One night, I got locked out of my friend’s apartment for a while. I wandered into the local convenience store and met a wonderful man named Raj, who tried to help me contact my friend by instantly offering me his phone. He then proceeded to tell me with pride that he had owned his shop for 24 years and that he considered it his duty to help anyone he could.

I went to a wedding by myself, knowing only the bride and was instantly embraced by everyone I met and had the most amazing night.

Standing at a train station waiting for a cab (with none in sight), a stranger called a cab for me and wished me a great day.

There were so many beautiful moments every day (too many to list). But basically, I was in a constant state of humility and gratitude all week.

Of course, not everyone helped, not everybody cared; but I discovered just as much — if not more kindness and connection, than disconnection. The right people always seemed to be there just as I needed them.

I believe we are never alone, but to see this we need to be open.

Yes, sometimes this means we get hurt; but when we shut down, we close ourselves off to the magic of connection. When we drop our list of expectations and open ourselves up, I guarantee, we will always be pleasantly surprised.

By all means, rely on yourself — take control and accountability of your life; but… trust in the good in others — it may not always be where we expect it, but it is always there.

Choose love. Choose connection.