It’s sometimes difficult to recognize when you need to ask for help. We’re trained to believe that we can “do it on our own” and that it’s normal to hit rock bottom, as long as you pick yourself up. But we don’t necessarily realize that, sometimes, help is necessary and, more often than not, is the best way to improve our lives and, at the very core, our selves.

There’s no shame in saying “I’m not okay.” There’s no shame in seeking support and positivity and constructive environments. There’s no shame in recognizing that, hey, this coping mechanism isn’t okay and, hey, maybe I need to step outside of myself for just a moment to view how I’m really behaving. We live in a world where everyone is expected to always be on their toes and to always know exactly what to do all the time. We don’t live in a world where struggling has no consequences — there’s no forgiveness for unpaid loans, for extended unemployment, for drinking too much or “letting ourselves go” or just needing a break. In this unfortunately impersonal and competitive world, you need to make your own connections and pick yourself up, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need a little help along the way.

Find the source of your problems, and tackle them head-on. You are in charge of your own happiness, but no one is going to do the work for you. Find like-minded people who will be your support, your rock. Find non-like-minded people that challenge your preconceived notions. Find support groups and one-on-one sessions and just talk — rather than closing yourself off to advice and potential life improvements, why not try being receptive? Open your mind and your heart and live freely. Don’t allow your innermost demons nor your self-doubt to impede your progress; because, again, only you can impede your own progress. It’s your life, your happiness, your success, your choices, your mistakes. Make as many mistakes and hit as many roadblocks as you need to along the way, but remember that, at the end of the day, only you can dictate your own life path.

I recently began attending a support group. I won’t go into details, because it’s not important why. Because, ultimately, the group is for me an outlet to meet people, talk out feelings, make friends, play games, let loose, and learn to love life, in all its messed-up and dysfunctional glory. Even if you think you have nothing to work on, you probably do. No one is perfect and no one is infallible. Also, no one man is an island, no matter how much he thinks he is. It’s healthy to recognize when you need help outside of yourself, just as it’s healthy to sometimes seek interaction and love even if you don’t think help is needed.

At the end of the day, people need to help one other. We live in a disconnected world that needs more love, and in which people need to support one another because, ultimately, we only have each other in this crazy world we live in. Seek positivity, seek love, seek hope, and, no matter what, don’t give up. It’s okay to work on yourself and to seek self-improvement and fulfillment.

A wise friend recently gave me the best advice I’ve ever been given.

“You either walk inside your own story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”

Live your truth, claim your story, and never, ever feel like you need to apologize for who you are and how you live. It’s your story. Now do everything in your power to make sure it ends exactly how you want it to, because it’s yours and yours alone, and no one but yourself is standing in your way.