I was a Mister Rogers fan as a kid.
I was also a Sesame Street kid for a while until my mom didn’t allow me to watch it. Why did my mom cut 4-year-old me off from Sesame Street? Because in one episode, Bert & Ernie were TV repair men (people? puppets?) and were taking apart a TV and climbing in the back of it. For those of you who are too young to know this, televisions used to be LARGE and DEEP.
Anyway, I was a very curious child and would absolutely think that I, myself, could take apart a television and crawl inside so my mom nipped that in the bud really fast.
Anyway, I fucking loved Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
There is a popular quote of his that goes around about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news:
“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
I was raised as a helper. I was raised to always make myself useful. I had very strong, independent women in my life who would (and still) give and give and give. I knew from very young that there were always people who had less than I did. Less food, less shelter, less friends, less family, less love. So I would give and give and give because I was fortunate to have a lot.
Except, my younger cousins will tell you: I was absolute shit at sharing my LEGOs.
Anyway, this constant swooping in and being the hero did absolutely nothing to prepare me for needing help myself nor asking for help. We, especially women, especially women of color, are lead to believe it’s okay to “look for the helpers” and it’s okay to be the helper. My parents never told me it was shameful to need help, but somewhere along the way, I picked up that idea. That I had to be strong. That I had to be independent.
But, what if *I* am the disaster? What if the disaster that needs help is *me*?
I wish that someone had told me at any time in the past 40 years that it’s okay to need and even want help. Maybe you needed or need someone to tell you that. So here I am, telling you: It’s okay to need and/or want help. It does not make you weak. It does not make you useless. You are human. We are all human. And sometimes we gotta ask for help. And the people who love you? They want to help. I promise.
I started this newsletter so that I can help more people. The kind words I’ve gotten in response have helped me immensely.
I found this following gif of Mister Rogers. It has made me cry for the past 20 minutes, so I wanted to give you a warning before you watch it.
Just in case you are now crying as well, I’ll leave you with my favorite Mister Rogers gif:
I am so, so grateful for you.