Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness | Michele L. Sullivan

We all have milestones in life
that we remember so vividly. The first one for me
was when I was entering kindergarten. My big brother was in school,
and by golly, it was my time. And I went trottin’ down that hallway. I was so excited, I almost wet myself. And I go to the door, and there was the teacher
with a warm welcome, and she took me into the classroom, showed me my little cubbyhole — we all remember those
little cubbyholes, don’t we — and we put our stuff in there. And then she said, “Go over to the circle and play with the kids
until class starts.” So I went over there
and plopped down like I owned the place, and I’m playing, and all of a sudden, the boy next to me, he was wearing a white shirt
with blue shorts. I remember it like it was yesterday. Suddenly he stopped playing and he said, “Why are you so short?” And I just kept playing.
I didn’t think he was talking to me. (Laughter) And in a louder voice, he said, “Hey, why are you so short?” So I looked up and I said, “What are you talking about?
Let’s just play. We’re happy. I’ve been waiting for this.” And so we played,
and about a minute later, the girl next to him,
in a white shirt and a pink skirt, stood up, put her hands on her hips, and said, “Yeah,
why do you look so different?” And I went, “What are you talking about? I don’t look different. I’m not short.
Again, let’s just play.” About this time, I looked
all around the circle I was in, and all the kids had stopped playing
and they were all looking at me. And I’m thinking — in today’s language,
it would be “OMG” or “WTF.” (Laughter) What just happened? So all the confidence
that I went in with that morning was withering away as the morning went on and the questions kept coming. And at the end of the morning,
before I went home, the teacher had us in a circle, and I actually found myself
outside of the circle. I couldn’t look at anybody. I could not understand what just happened. And over the next few years, I hated to go out in public. I felt every stare, every giggle, every pointed finger, not the finger, but every pointed finger, and I hated it. I would hide behind my parents’ legs
like nobody could see me. And as a child, you can’t understand
another child’s curiosity, nor an adult’s ignorance. It became very apparent to me
that the real world was not built for someone of my size,
both literally or figuratively. And so I have no anonymity,
as you can probably tell, and while you can see my size, we all go through many challenges
through our lifetime. And some you can see, like mine. Most you can’t. You can’t tell if someone’s dealing
with a mental illness, or they’re struggling
with their gender identity, they’re caring for an aging parent, they’re having financial difficulty. You can’t see that kind of stuff. So while you can see one of my challenges is my size, seeing does not mean you understand what it’s truly to be me on a daily basis,
or what I go through. And so I’m here to debunk a myth. I do not believe you can
walk in someone else’s shoes, and because of that, we must adopt
a new way of giving of ourselves. Simply stated, I will never know
what it’s like to be you and you will never know
what it’s like to be me. I cannot face your fears
or chase your dreams, and you can’t do that for me, but we can be supportive of each other. Instead of trying to walk
in each other’s shoes, we must adopt a new way
of giving of ourselves. I learned at an early age that I did have to do some things
different than most people, but I also learned there were things
I was on equal footing with, and one of those was the classroom. Heh, heh, heh. I was equal. As a matter of fact,
I excelled in the classroom. This was vitally important,
I discovered as I grew older and realized I wasn’t going to be able
to do a physical job. I needed an education. So I went on and got a university degree, but I felt to be one step ahead
of everyone for employment, I needed to have
an advanced university degree, so I went ahead and got that. Now I’m ready for my interview. Remember your first interview?
What am I going to wear? What questions? And don’t forget that firm handshake. I was right there with you. So 24 hours before my interview, a friend of mine
who I’ve known all my life called and said, “Michele,
the building you’re going in has steps.” And she knew I couldn’t climb steps. So suddenly, my focus changed. In my shoes, I was worried
about how am I going to get there? So I went early and found a loading dock
and got in and had a great interview. They had no idea what I went through
for the day and that’s OK. You’re probably thinking my greatest
challenge that day was the interview, or getting in the building. In reality, my biggest challenge that day was getting through the loading dock
without getting run over. I am very vulnerable
in certain situations: airports, hallways, parking lots, loading docks. And so I have to be very careful. I have to anticipate and be flexible and move as quickly as I can sometimes. So I got the job, and in my current role
I travel quite a bit. And travel is a challenge
for all of us these days. And so you probably get to the airport,
run through security, get to the gate. Did I get my aisle seat or my window seat?
Did I get my upgrade? Me, first of all,
I don’t run through anything. (Laughter) And I especially don’t run through the TSA because I get to experience
the personal patdown. I won’t comment on that. And then I make my way to the gate, and with my gift of gab
that my parents said I was born with, I talk to the gate agent, and then I say,
“By the way, my scooter weighs this much, I have a dry cell battery, and I can drive it down
to the door of the plane.” Also, the day before, I had called
the city where I’m traveling to to find out where I could rent a scooter
in case mine gets broken on the way. So in my shoes,
it’s a little bit different. When I get onto the plane, I use my gift of gab to ask the lady
to put my bag up, and they graciously do. I try not to eat or drink on a plane because I don’t want to have to
get up and walk on the plane, but nature has its own schedule, and not long ago,
it knocked and I answered. So I walked up to the front of the plane and gabbed with the flight attendant, and said, “Can you watch the door?
I can’t reach the lock.” So I’m in there doing my business,
and the door flies open. And there’s a gentleman there with a look of horror on his face. I’m sure I had the same look. As I came out, I noticed
that he was sitting right across from me, and he’s in total, complete embarrassment. So I walk up to him and I quietly go, “Are you going to remember this
as much as I am?” (Laughter) And he goes, “I think so.” (Laughter) Now, while he’s probably
not talking about it publicly, I am. (Laughter) But we talked for the rest of the flight, and we got to know each other,
our families, sports, work, and when we landed, he said, “Michele, I noticed
someone put your bag up. Can I get that for you?” And I said, “Of course, thank you.” And we wished each other well, and the most important thing that day was that he was not going to leave
with that embarrassment, that experience of embarrassment. He won’t forget it, and neither will I, but I think he will remember more our chat and our different perspectives. When you travel internationally, it can be even more challenging
in certain ways. A few years ago, I was in Zanzibar, and I come wheeling in, and think about that. Short, white, blond woman in a chair. That doesn’t probably happen every day. So I go up, and with my gift of gab,
I start to talk to the agent. So friendly, and I ask
about their culture and so forth, and I notice there wasn’t a jet bridge. So I had to kind of say, “Not only do you have to lift my chair, I could use some help
getting up the steps.” So we got to spend about an hour together
while we waited for the flight, and it was the most magnificent hour. Our perspective changed
for both of us that day. And once I got on the flight, he patted me on the back
and wished me well, and I thanked him so much. And again, I think he’s going
to remember that experience more than when I first came in,
and there was a bit of hesitation. And as you notice, I get a lot of help. I would not be where I am today if it was not for my family,
my friends, my colleagues and the many strangers that help me every single day of my life. And it’s important
that we all have a support system. Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. (Applause) We all need help throughout our lifetime, but it is just as important that we are part
of other people’s support systems. We must adopt that way of giving back. We all obviously have a role to play
in our own successes, but think about the role we have to play
in other people’s successes, just like people do for me
every single day. It’s vitally important
that we help each other, because society is increasingly
placing people in silos based on biases and ideologies. And we must look past the surface and be confronted with the truth that none of us are what you can see. There’s more to us than that, and we’re all dealing with things
that you cannot see. So living a life free of judgment allows all of us to share
those experiences together and have a totally different perspective, just like the couple of people
I mentioned earlier in my stories. So remember, the only shoes you truly can walk in are your own. I cannot walk in yours. I know you can’t walk in my size 1s — (Laughter) but you can try. But we can do something better than that. With compassion,
courage and understanding, we can walk side by side and support one another, and think about how society can change if we all do that instead of judging
on only what you can see. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you.

97 Replies to “Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness | Michele L. Sullivan”

  1. "When you want to be successful as bad you want to breathe, then you will be successful". – Eric Thompson.

  2. This provides some interesting perspectives, definitely worth a watch. Everything about this video might not be perfect, but the world would probably be a better place if everyone listened through a few videos like this. On a completely unrelated topic, in case anyone feels like learning a thing or two about the most ridiculously massive objects in our universe I just now released a video about the Titans of Our Universe. Feel free to check it out if you're interested πŸ™‚

  3. I dont know. Good speech. But she seems to be in denial a little bit. You can't always take offense or jave an adverse reaction to people asking questions. Whether your obviously misshapen or not. Kids wont learn unless you explain in a positive manner. Not OMG WTF. Unless im imagining like 8 to 10 yrs olds when she is talking about teenagers. Questions are not an issue.

  4. i think it's pretty pathetic that most western countries still struggle to accommodate for the disabled in a way that would be completely unacceptable if it applied to the abled.

  5. Wow. That was moving. I really needed to hear this today. Thank you, Michele, for sharing your story and wisdom!

  6. You are an inspiration, Michelle.

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story with the world.

    I can only imagine how many lives this talk will impact.

  7. I am a perfectly healthy male but even i struggle to ask for help, i feel like i am troubling someone, i am not STRONG enough to ask for help. Asking for help definitely needs you to be Strong.

  8. surprise-surprise, when somebody is being supportive of a worthy mentality/ethics as opposed to wanting people to support their own views while disregarding others', the rating is good, regardless of gender, ethnicity or other background
    altough Ted, how many people you got going on constantly checking to censor/maintain the safespace? i guess you really became personal/business-minded with the selective of what 'worth' is in 'ideas worth spreading'

  9. I feel like asking for help is especially difficult for men :/ like do you really think thats a weakness and somehow challenges your so called manliness??? A real man would suck it up and ask for help because he is secure with himself or masculinity >.> funny story with my dad, he thought sunscreen was feminine and got his face sunburnt, it was red af for days and his skin started peeling

  10. I like the fact that she doesn't see her situation as a handicap. And she shows that no matter what your circumstances you can adapt to the challenges in your life.

  11. I just want to thank TEd for censoring me on their last video. I guess anyone who questions the pseudo scientific claims of sjw feminists doesn't get a platform on Ted. Way to go! You're so very liberal.

  12. nah, you are wrong. you might feel like you want it to be, and others may sympathize and say it because they want it to be, but no, it is not.

  13. Just be who you is, don't be who you isn't, if you is who you isn't, you isn't who you is. That is a quote from my Grandfather, who got it from an uncle. It is nonsense, but it is so true, so just enjoy being who you is πŸ™‚

  14. To fabricate a person capable of being handicapped, people do not have to be very smart, just animals, idiots, slavers, or sadists.

  15. Well said. Accepting the fact that you need help from others requires humility and self-awareness, and having people around you who are willing to help requires social skills.

    People who disagree probably didn't watch the whole video or haven't met any real difficulty that is beyond their own capabilities.

  16. i used to watch these in school and be soooo bored. now i sit here and watch them for entertainment at my own home

  17. Asking for help is fine when your difficulty is clearly visible like hers… nobody will deny help to someone who is clearly physically incapable of doing something. If not for kindness, they'll do it to not look bad, since others can also clearly see what's going on.
    But when you have a less visible physical problem (like chronic pain) or a mental issue, people will just sneer at you and judge you more if you even consider asking for help. To them, you're a liar and just fishing for attention and pity.

  18. To feel that asking for help is a weakness is to be ruled by the construct of your ego. To achieve on your own is wonderful but there's also nothing wrong with asking for help. I believe there is a confusion here between getting help and having someone do something for you entirely, as well as the difference between the physical abilities of someone who is disabled and someone who isn't. Take your pride and ego out of this topic for a second and use your perspective capability and empathy to hear what this woman is saying.

  19. Thank you Michele. You have spoken for every human that feels vulnerable, upset, scared in this technologically developing world. I now know, that I am not alone in the battle that is adolescence. Thank you

  20. i wanna know the thoughts of those people who disliked this video. like, seriously, why would someone dislike something so inspirational?

  21. 2:45 "As a child, you can't understand another child's curiosity or an adult's ignorance." Brilliant insight into the mind of young people.

  22. Top Urgent Help Needed In Northwest & Southwest Region Of Cameroon

  23. I want some of that gift of gab. Her attitude in navigating life is so admirable, I want to learn some of her wisdom from her.

  24. We need to help eachother help families and god will bless us.

    Only we ourselfs know whats in our pockets. Dont give a dollar if you know you have millions. But dont give if you cant.

  25. Michelle, if you are reading this comment, you please know that to me, and many other people, you are not short.
    You might be short in term of height, sizes or whatever, but your appearance and your sense of inspiration are not. You may be short, but everyone, every audience has to look up to see, to hear, and to learn from you.
    We love you.! πŸ™‚

  26. Hello, please check my champagne, help with sharing it or may be donate me!

    Thank you in advance!

  27. Michele is a natural comedian πŸ˜‚πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

  28. Check out my podcast on why strong people struggle with asking for help.

  29. We are a dance group and are trying hard how to increase the numbers of the subscribers or viewers… We got some technical advises like better camera quality or about editing issue but we don't have enough money to spare those things. The team members are mostly school or college students. And they do themselves the choreography,the camera, the editing part, makeup and outfits everything but their attitudes are very much professionals when they are performing in these categories… We need your support. So please visit us and subscribe our channel to give us courage to do lot more works :-).

  30. I am an orphan, lost parents at age 11. My mom passed on Xmas day, 1972, i was 10. Xmas is still hard for me but i do it.

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