If you’ve been around this site for a while or you know me, you know I love a good theme. A theme makes everything is a bit more exciting and special; birthday parties, Instagram accounts, my outfit for the day. My penchant for a thematic flair had me spending the last few weeks thinking about the idea of independence in preparation for this week’s post. I really wanted to deep dive into the concept and its importance in making progress. After all, you can’t really move forward in your goals if you are dependent upon someone else to make them happen. I thought and wrote and researched, and kept returning to the idea that unless you’re a country under unrealistic sanctions from across the sea, or a complete deadbeat sucking the life from the person you live with, the current idea of independence is kind of overrated.
To be fair, the popular idea of independence has never been a huge motivator for me. I grew up as a youngest child with my siblings years older than me and understandably not interested in my hobbies. We lived in a hilly area surrounded by woods, and I spent large portions of every day out in those woods, exploring and using my imagination to rescue lost children, scale mountains and cross roaring rivers. I created and destroyed towns in mudslides in the driveway and led expeditions around the property. When I wasn’t outside I was in the basement playroom, lost in my own world of baby dolls and Little People. I grew up with such a powerful grasp on independent thought, decision making, and personal motivation that when 2000’s pop songs started talking to me about independence being a valuable asset for a girl, their definition confused me.
Our society has packaged and repackaged this idea for ages, but usually the idea is that if you have needs that are met by others you are Dependent, and this is bad. Dependence equals weakness. Dependence is for girls who have no aspiration. It means that you have no personal power. You’re subject to someone else’s whims and ideas about who and what you should be. You can’t provide for yourself or make moves on your own and no one should be content to be in that space.
I tried to let these ideas empower me, to take these thoughts in and let them spark my ambition. Destiny’s Child was telling me that I needed to buy my own diamonds, watch, car and house to be independent. Which was preferred, of course, because if you didn’t men would control you. But little me knew what the me of last two weeks kept remembering.
We are all born with independence, yet dependence is vital for our survival.
The moment you emerged from the womb and started crying you made your first independent act. You were entirely dependent upon your caretakers, and yet, perfectly independent in the way you saw the world and interacted with it. Yes, over time your parents, teachers, friends, even strangers attempted to take away that freedom at times. You need your parents for rides, your friends encouraged you to conform to the group norms, strangers judged your unique perspective and it changed a bit. In spite of all of this outside input, the fact remains, you are a miraculously independent spirit. Thankfully your success in growth, health, personal progress and mindset is achieved completely independent of others. They might teach and inform, but accepting those ideas and making them real in your life, that’s all up to you.
While most people put independence and dependence on opposite sides of the same coin, they’re more like two sides of an old school scale, and both sides are equally important. Obviously there are points in life when dependence on others is fairly complete and essential. As we grow that dependence changes form and the people we rely on evolves from our parents and caretakers to teachers, friends, coaches, partners and spouses. We depend on their support and guidance, we give a choice few ability to shape and mold our worldview. And this kind of dependence is equally essential and beautiful. Humans desperately need to depend on each other!
So as we here in The States celebrate our nation’s independence here’s the message: it’s all about balance. As we strive to find ways to be our own person, make our own way, provide for ourselves and internalize our locus of control, so we seek to build relationships where we can depend on others, count on their support and find refuge in like-minded endeavor. Embrace your independence and find others who are worthy of your specific dependence. Don’t feel guilty for needing the support and companionship of others, and know that at the end of the day you alone have the power to make your goals happen.