Historically, my family, friends and boyfriends have called me independent: not to be pinned down, a leader, walks to her own beat, follows her own path – you get the picture.
I believe in independence and learning to rely on yourself for resources, needs and desires. I’ve traveled in foreign countries alone by plane, car and boat, I’ve spent bouts of years single (and being okay with that), I’ve relocated on my own with no one on the other end to ‘catch me’ three times before I turned 23 and I’m financially stable. That denotes independence to me – mighty woman, hear me roar. I take care of business – personal and professional. I stand on my own two feet and nothing, will ever take that away from me.
But wait…is it all by myself?
A conversation, sparked between my brilliant friend about independence and another person making you whole made me think about a more evolved vision of independence that I have come to terms with.
That is: we aren’t ever really truly, independent.
I know, at first thought I got all fiery, growled a little and prepared my rebuttal but as I thought about it it’s true and I realized, why does relying on someone else have to be that bad? Why the bad rep?
Thinking back to a time in the past when I was recently single I would stomp my my feet indignantly about my independence and argue, “I do everything on my own,” (this story could be paralleled to so many of my independent girlfriends) – but really, my family and friends wiped my tears and fears away when I went through the breakup and felt like I didn’t want to get out of bed, my job kept me going with a schedule each day, I relied on my yoga classes and instructors for clarity and my professional mentors, helped me realign my goals and stay focused. I landed on both my feet, but with the help, support and reliance of loved ones.
These are some of the things I rely on and lean on for support: my hairdresser (for others colorist, waxing, etc.), clothing, my farmers market and local grocery store for food, my health care provider, my family, my parents (think of stages of life: as a baby, middle school, after losing a job, when you start your own family, etc.) my friends, my boyfriend, my car (subsequently, my mechanic) my apartment and roof over my head (property manager and the money to pay rent) and my job and the steady income it provides. See, common things many of us rely on, but don’t think about.
Come on, think honestly about this. Can you thrive without your personal board of directors? What about your best friend? Mamma? Papa? Mentor? Lover(s)? Barber? Barista? I know what you are thinking, Yes! I can and shall (thump fists to chest)! But think more… all of them at once? Forget about thriving, can you even survive without them?
Historically, coupling has enabled survival, evolution, beautification, innovation, enlightenment. Coupling is the oldest, most trusted, most instinctual, most fundamental method of coping, method of learning, and method of achieving greatness. Are we willing to say that coupling with multiple people in inherently more beneficial than coupling with primarily one? What’s wrong with making one person the primary source and benefactor of your gifts?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaning on someone or multiple people and resources. In return, often the greatest pleasure in life is giving back to those you care about and letting others lean on you.
I do believe you can stand firmly on your own and be happy. I do not believe in making someone else your happiness. All these words starting with “co” (meaning to bring together): cohesive, collaborate, connect and co-working are about joining together to create something better and more full. The important distinction can be in wanting, versus needing someone to co-anything together.
I would still call myself an independent woman. It’s just in my nature. I prefer to bootstrap and do things on my own, but in learning to ask for help and to lean on people in times of need and struggles, I think it makes me just as independent because I’m emotionally aware and attuned to ask. Knowing when to ask and rely doesn’t make me weak, instead, I think it makes me stronger.
At what stage in your life were you ever really completely, independent? What do you think?
Jodi ends with this outright thought:
I’m actually saying it. If the spirit moves you, find yourself completely (what’s that bad word again?) co-dependent. Completely, co-creating. Completely co-piloting. Completely, complete. And if this is too scarey of a place for you, get off your butt right now a look at yourself in the bathroom mirror. Were you ever really independent?