Hyper-Independence in Friendships: When ‘I’ve Got This’ Becomes ‘I’m All Alone’

Hyper-independence in friendships can slowly erode your support system. It’s time to challenge the idea that asking for help is a weakness.
The Love Central - Hyper-Independence in Friendships The Love Central - Hyper-Independence in Friendships
Hyper-Independence in Friendships

Ever found yourself declining help from friends, insisting you can manage solo, only to feel utterly isolated later? This is the paradox of hyper-independence in friendships. Let’s dive into how this mindset, common among Africans in the diaspora, can transform from a source of pride to a path of loneliness

Meet Nelsie, a 28-year-old Ghanaian-born architect living in Toronto. She’s the go-to problem solver in her friend group, always ready with solutions and never asking for help. 

When her car breaks down on a -20°C winter night, she spends hours trying to fix it herself instead of calling her friends. This scenario exemplifies hyper-independence in action.

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Shes the go to problem solver in her friend group always ready with solutions and never asking for help Image source Freepik

Key Aspects of Hyper-Independence in Friendships

Let’s break down the key aspects of hyper-independence in friendships:

1. The Roots of Hyper-Independence

For many Africans in the diaspora, hyper-independence is deeply ingrained. It’s born from proverbs like the Igbo saying, “Ahapụla nwanne gị n’azụ” (Don’t leave your brother behind), which paradoxically pushes individuals to avoid being a burden. 

The immigration experience amplifies this trait. Navigating visa processes, job hunts, and cultural shocks solo reinforces the “I’ve got this” mentality.

2. The Mask of Strength

Hyper-independent individuals often present an impenetrable facade. They’ll work 60-hour weeks, volunteer on weekends, and organize community events – all while insisting they’re “fine.” This behavior can be traced back to cultural expectations of resilience, like the Yoruba concept of “ifarada” (endurance).

3. The Fear of Vulnerability

Opening up feels like removing a protective armor for the hyper-independent. There’s a fear that showing weakness might confirm stereotypes or disappoint family back home. This fear prevents the formation of deep friendships that require mutual vulnerability.

4. The Illusion of Control

Hyper-independence provides a false sense of control in an unpredictable world. For diaspora Africans, who’ve often left stable support systems behind, this illusion is particularly seductive. But it’s unsustainable, leading to burnout and isolation.

The Impact of Hyper-Independence

Hyper-independence can significantly affect the quality and depth of friendships:

  • One-Sided Relationships: Hyper-independent individuals often give more than they receive, leading to imbalanced friendships.
  • Misunderstandings: Friends may perceive hyper-independent behavior as aloofness or lack of trust, potentially causing hurt feelings or distance.
  • Missed Opportunities for Support: By consistently refusing help, hyper-independent people miss out on the emotional and practical support that friendships can provide.
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Establish regular check ins with friends where you openly discuss challenges and successes Image source Freepik

Breaking the Cycle

Here are practical steps to overcome hyper-independence and foster healthier friendships:

  • Start Small: Begin by asking for help with minor tasks. For example, ask a friend for a restaurant recommendation or to proofread an email.
  • Practice Vulnerability: Share a small personal challenge with a trusted friend. It could be as simple as expressing frustration about a work project.
  • Set Reciprocity Goals: Make it a point to accept help as often as you offer it. Keep a mental tally if necessary.
  • Reframe Asking for Help: Instead of viewing it as a weakness, see it as an opportunity to strengthen your friendships and build trust.
  • Create Support Rituals: Establish regular check-ins with friends where you openly discuss challenges and successes.
  • Seek Professional Support: Consider talking to a therapist who understands cultural nuances to work through deeply ingrained patterns.
  • Join Support Groups: Look for groups specifically for diaspora Africans to connect with others who understand your experiences.

By taking these steps, you can gradually shift from hyper-independence to interdependence, creating more fulfilling and balanced friendships.

Conclusion: Hyper-Independence in Friendships

Hyper-independence in friendships can slowly erode your support system. It’s time to challenge the idea that asking for help is a weakness. Remember, even the mighty baobab tree needs a forest to thrive.

Are you ready to let your friends be more than just spectators in your life? It’s time to turn “I’ve got this” into “We’ve got this.” Your future self – less stressed, more connected, and genuinely supported – will thank you.

READ: Nightlife and Networking: The Ultimate Guide to Making Friends as an African in New York City

Feeling lost in the Big Apple? Don’t worry! This guide to making friends as an African in New York City will turn you from a lonely to a social butterfly in no time. 

We’ll explore the vibrant nightlife and networking scenes that make NYC a melting pot of cultures and opportunities. 

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