Partner School Stories

Be Brave: Support Others When They Struggle

By Joey Pagano

Photo by Marta Esteban Fernando on Unsplash

When a conflict arises, we tend to do one of two things – we either come together and bond as a family, community, or country, or we fall apart and disperse into our own cocoons.

That can’t happen, because we need each other at times of distress. We can’t continue to hide from one another and mock what others are going through. The human race is unique in that we can communicate and empathize with one another, especially during hard times.

We have to support one another, because there are times you need me and times I need you. Regardless of how strong we each may be, we all need help. This is a key tenet of The Positivity Project’s Other People Matter Mindset.

Co-founders Jeff Bryan and Mike Erwin emphasize that supporting others through the thunderstorms in their lives is important — both for the helped and the helper.

Sometimes, all we want to do is cry on somebody’s shoulder. Other times, we have seemingly unsolvable problems — and we need others to talk through it with and help us simplify it in our minds.

Receiving help with daily tasks has highlighted that for me. The traditional meaning of independence has never had the opportunity to play a role in my life, so I have created my own definition of the word based on my abilities.

But I don’t limit myself to the abilities I know I have. I constantly push myself to make baby steps and to work on the things I know, in my heart, I can do. Because that’s the only way towards growth.

I used to find myself brainstorming and trying to think of ways I can lend a hand to make up for what people do for me. But now, I see how difficult it would be to reciprocate every helping hand I receive. So I just help others, whoever they are, in any way I can.

I pride myself on being on everybody’s team and making things easier for others whenever I can, which is the mindset that we all have to adopt. Nobody is an island, and we have to hone that idea as much as we can.

This reminder, that nobody is an island, intertwines with the fear of being judged. When we struggle, we suddenly forget that we’re all pretty similar. Everybody goes through tough times. Yet, many times we feel that talking about our pain would be a sign of weakness — leading people to laugh and spread rumors about us.

In our current society, I would argue that is a rational concern, because people do often gossip about one another. But, we have the choice to be brave. Brave to help others by who are struggling. And, brave to reach out for help, even in the face of our fears. Being brave and having these conversations with family members and close friends is a great place to start.

Taking it a step further, if we can create a culture where everyone cares about strangers as if they’ve known them since childhood — or at the least simply shows respect to all strangers, regardless of who they are — then we will have a world full of people who lift one another up.

We have to do this the right way, though. Striving for excellence and becoming the best you can be is a great thing — and what propels many of us forward towards our individual goals. Therefore, lifting each other up and buying into the Other People Matter Mindset doesn’t mean that we hand out participation trophies and cut competition out of society.

Instead, it means we’re humble when we’re successful and kindly offer words of encouragement to people who are experiencing difficult times.

This is the type of world that I want to live in.

Joey Pagano
Student, Syracuse University

Building the Other People Mindset and remembering and emphasizing its importance is what I aim for day after day. As I continue to pursue a career in journalism and attend the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, I aim to show people that buying into The Positivity Project doesn’t mean you have to be happy and positive all the time, but instead means we have to work together more and build positive relationships. You can also find Joey on Twitter @WheelchairQB_ and at his blog