Letting Go of My Pride and Asking for Help

Young Lee avatar

by Young Lee |

Share this article:

Share article via email
shopping cart theory, lesson, ableist jokes, fear, COVID-19

Column by Young Lee

A scene from the animated Nickelodeon show “Avatar: The Last Airbender” has been on my mind recently. It’s an exchange between a character named Iroh, an old and wise retired general, and his nephew, Zuko, a young and headstrong prince.

Shortly after Zuko experiences a series of setbacks and failures, Iroh seeks to mentor the young prince. 

Sensing turmoil within his nephew, Iroh advises Zuko to let go of any feelings of shame to find some semblance of inner peace. Frustrated by this, Zuko responds, “But I don’t feel any shame at all! I’m as proud as ever!” 

To this, Iroh replies, “Prince Zuko, pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.”

These words from Iroh resonate with me because I’ve been much like Zuko at certain times in my life — too prideful to admit that I need help and too stubborn to accept advice when offered.

That’s also been true about my interactions with my own disability. When I was younger, particularly during my middle school and teenage years, although I would acknowledge to others that I had Charcot-Marie-Tooth, I was never willing to admit that sometimes I let my disability get to me — that on some days, the disease wins. I definitely wouldn’t have willingly participated in any kind of CMT community group. 

That’s because doing so would have required me to admit that I have a failure-prone body that doesn’t always cooperate the way I’d like. It would have required me to admit that I could use some help, and that I’m unable to muscle through a disease like CMT by myself.

And yet, with an adversary like CMT, no one is able to truly fight it alone.

I think that speaks to the insidious nature of pride. Although I sometimes felt “safe” by not admitting weakness, all I was really doing was protecting my ego. And obsessing over one’s ego suffocates any potential for growth. After all, without being honest about my limitations, how can I expect to improve?

Indeed, “pride comes before the fall,” as the old adage goes. And in the cases for CMTers like me, sometimes the fall can be quite literal. Although it’s not always easy, I continually find that by letting go of pride, I can let go of my shame, whether it’s caused by disability or otherwise. And by doing so, I can find and receive help with an open mind, confident that my value is inherent and not tied to any sort of pretense.

I’m glad that over the years, I’ve lost some of that stubborn pride. It’s allowed me to reach out to the larger CMT community, to seek out the wisdom of other CMTers, to join in fellowship with the “tribe of thin ankles,” and to accept and celebrate my disability.


Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth 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 other 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 Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.


Sandra Cooper avatar

Sandra Cooper

"On My Own Two" Thought this to be an excellent read.I was diagnosed 21 years ago and I did not know there was anywhere to get more info. I have CMT1A and have exercised nearly every day and been to pilates, physio, but mainly follow my own exercise programme to try and keep my self mobile. I do not have any aids at this stage but am having problems with balance. I live on the Gold Coast and would like to get in touch with any group that meets and can discuss ideas.

Anita Horvereid avatar

Anita Horvereid


I just finished watching this scene from the show avatar, and it really moved me. I had to search online to see if anyone else had written their thoughts on this scene. I am so glad I stumbled across your post here. This scene and your post have helped me come to a conclusion that has now forever changed my life. Not sure if you will ever see this, but I just needed to say thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have helped change my life for the better.

Thank you,


Leave a comment

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