Connecting With Others Helps Us Move Forward

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

Share this article:

Share article via email
awkward moments, progression, Rare Disease Day, grief, move forward, small lessons

Many things in the news lately have me thinking about the many aspects of life in which the power to affect change is in numbers.

The most obvious example currently is voter participation in a democracy. The United States is neck-deep in a presidential election year, so the daily headlines are consumed with political stories.

Another relevant topic right now, especially in the U.S., are the cultural and subcultural tensions that exist across the nation. From ethnicity to religion, from financial status to gender, from skin color to political party, it’s rare when one side isn’t trying to influence the other in hopes of increasing their membership.

Even if we steer clear of the more sensitive topics, like the aforementioned ones, we can easily see that so much of life is a numbers game.

Not long ago, I wrote about the potential that money has when we stay the course with investing, especially in the stock market. Whether you consider buying a lot of stocks (numbers) or you intend to hang on to just a few for many years (numbers), your earning potential (number) is tied to the way you manage the nuances of those different aspects (numbers). 

We can consider business as well: The more products one sells, the more profit they make. The more bundling a customer commits to, the more money they might save on recurring bills, such as TV cable and home internet.

In so many areas of our lives, more is better.

We often want more: more money, more time, more votes, more points, more influence, more friends to celebrate with, more ideas to pursue, and more goals to accomplish.

However, a common theme I’m noticing lately is that the opposite is true when life gets hard.

For whatever reason, so many of us tend to hibernate or simply refrain from opening up when we are facing a hardship. At a time when we need more support than usual, we generally disregard, or perhaps forget, the power in numbers. 

Granted, I understand that it’s easier to get excited about a job promotion than unemployment. More personally, thanks to Friedreich’s ataxia, I know it’s easier to show off a fresh haircut than the aftermath of an embarrassing fall.

I can’t help but wonder why, though. Why is it that I feel embarrassed when I stumble or fall? Why do I feel like a burden simply because I may need more help loading groceries into my car than someone else? Why do I feel like I’m the only one that needs help or support? Why is the feeling of loneliness exacerbated in the midst of my hardships?

Although I’m sure shame and embarrassment have a lot to do with it, I’m not a psychologist, and I won’t claim to know the answer from a scientific or behavioral perspective. But at the most rudimentary level, I am convinced that our challenges, such as rare disease or disability, continue to isolate us and others, because we forget the power and hope that can exist in numbers.

I hear similar stories quite often on the podcast I co-host; a family receives a diagnosis, they intentionally or unintentionally isolate themselves for a while, and when they start connecting with others in similar situations, they become reinvigorated and empowered to live beyond their painful circumstances.

I believe that the support anyone might need is out there just waiting for us to find it.

For what it’s worth, if you ever find yourself feeling isolated, reach out to someone and explore the effectiveness a community or tribe can have on our ability to move forward. Don’t let the challenges of life be an excuse for keeping to yourself. Instead, let those challenges be the reason you search for your power in numbers.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.