The everyday

What does it mean to be independent?

I consider myself to be an independent person, I always have. I hate feeling vulnerable or like I am relying on somebody else for anything. My only interpretation of this is that I hate feeling like I am putting somebody out, even if I know that I am not and they are happy to help.

The example that popped into my mind when I was thinking about this was my reason for wanting to learn to drive (many moons ago). That reason was because I wanted to be in control of where I go, how I get there and when I decide to go without having to rely on somebody else. Did you spot the word in that last sentence that stopped me in my tracks? That word is control. Is that what it is? Is it that I’m not independent after all but rather that I’m a little too preoccupied with being in control…of everything?!

This didn’t cross my mind until very recently when somebody close to me mentioned independence in a fleeting way as part of a conversation that I have forgotten the topic of now. Their words were: “I’m just completely independent, I could stand in a crowd of people for an entire day and not need to speak one word to anybody”. This comment stuck with me because immediately I thought, wow I could never do that! I find silence really rather awkward and I always feel an overwhelming urge to fill it with some sort of conversation. So, if that is what independence is then that must mean I’m not independent right?

But is that what independence is?

I searched the definition of independent to gain some clarity. There are multiple definitions for the word, including but not limited to; thinking or acting for oneself, not influenced by the thoughts, actions or opinions of others, not dependent upon something or someone else.

After reading these definitions I realised that the question is not a straightforward one. There are many different aspects of being or feeling independent and I suppose I have learned that it can mean different things for different people.

It turns out both me and this other person were correct in our interpretations of the word independent. This is why I love conversation. It opens the mind to new possibilities, it prompts us to ask questions and seek knowledge and this is what happened for me. Something I had never questioned before was all of a sudden a grey area.

If you had asked me a week ago: do you know the meaning of independence? I would have absolutely and with great confidence answered yes. If you asked me the same question now I would answer differently. My response would be that I know what it means for me and I’m interested to learn what it means for other people.

What does the word independence mean to you?

Thanks for reading!

Until the next time…Jess x

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