I want to talk about something that has been bothering me a lot recently.
I consider myself to be an extremely independent person. I’ve been independent for as long as I can remember. To this day, my mother admittedly resents me for pushing her away on my first day of preschool, proudly stating I didn’t want her walking me into school. I could do it myself. In the past few months, I have been working on my independence (which is often intertwined with stubbornness), though, because I’ve realized that being 100% independent all of the time is not always the best thing for me. It’s okay to have some help once in awhile, and it’s okay not to do everything on your own.
However, I still do think that being dependent is a big problem. I’m more sensitive than most to the whole independent vs. dependent issue, because it really does worry me when people become too dependent on others. Being dependent is perfectly alright as a temporary state of being in certain situation, but it’s dangerous when it’s one’s identity. It’s especially worrisome because most people who are extremely dependent on others think they’re not at all.
There are so many beautiful things about being independent. When you’re independent, you don’t need someone to support you or to do things for you. That doesn’t mean you never get extra support, it just means you don’t need it to function. It means being secure with yourself and confident in your abilities to take care of yourself.
I think that my main problem with dependence is that it usually indicates a very strong underlying lack of self-understanding or a deep insecurity with oneself. Do you know who you are? Do you really know who you are? If you’re a very dependent person, then probably not. But let’s say you say you do know who you are. Are you comfortable with that person?
I really like to be alone. I like hanging out by myself. I don’t think everyone needs to feel like that. But I do think there’s a problem when someone is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, when a person needs to have social interaction 24/7 and is afraid to be alone for more than 5 minutes. Those people who freak out if they don’t have plans with their friends spanning every second they are awake. What are you afraid of? What are you hiding from? Your thoughts? Finding yourself?
I notice it a lot in terms of relationships. For example, let’s take the stereotypical girl who always has to have a boyfriend. She thinks being single for more than 5 days means the world is coming to an end. She doesn’t even really know what being “single” means. She’s had a boyfriend since she was 15. As soon as she breaks up with one, she has another within a week. During that week, she’s a mess. She’s clinging to her friends, desperate for pity and consolation and sympathy, constantly wondering if she should get back together with him or worrying where she will find her next boyfriend. It’s all she talks about. She thinks that because she is 23 and has been single for two hours, she is destined to be forever alone and will die only in the company of her 60 cats. No one will ever love her again.
This is so wrong.
Why are people scared to be single? The thing is, the most important relationship in their lives is probably not a good one. That relationship is the one with themselves.
It’s important to feel comfortable on your own. It’s important to feel like you can be completely self-sufficient. You shouldn’t need anyone else to feel complete. If you learn to love yourself, it’s freeing. You can’t use another bird’s wings to fly, ya know? You won’t have to worry about having enough friends, who you’re going to hang out with this weekend, if you’ll ever find a husband, or what anyone is going to think of your new Facebook profile picture.
Take yourself out on a date. Go to the movies alone. Take a walk along the beach by yourself. Think. Don’t run away from your thoughts or your fears or your hopes or your wishes. Try something new. Fail at something and be okay with it. Learn something new about anything, but especially about yourself.
When you’re jumping from relationship to relationship and never stopping to be in a relationship with just yourself, there’s probably a reason why. That perfect relationship you’re so desperate to be in right now, the reason you feel like you need to have a significant other and are afraid of being alone, probably will not even last when the underlying issue is that you might not know or love yourself completely yet. How can someone else fully love you, and how can you fully love someone else, when you don’t fully love yourself?
Dependence is an especially important issue in relationships because people often mistake their dependence on someone for love. You need that person. Why? Because that person makes you dinner and drives you places? Because that person means security – financial or emotional? That’s different than love. It’s different than saying, I love myself and I am happy on my own. But I found someone who enhances that and has opened up an even greater part of my life.
Be careful of being dependent on someone. You need to be able to stand on your own two feet. The reason that girl has so much trouble with all of her breakups, even from those 3 day relationships, is because she can’t stand on her own. What happens when the stakes are higher? What happens if you fall in love without knowing and loving and being okay with yourself, you get married, and 30 years down the line things fall apart? Will you be able to continue on your own? What if you have kids? You can’t support others if you can’t fully support yourself. That might sound negative, but sometimes things happen. Life changes. However, I think the chances of things falling apart in a relationship are monumentally smaller when people enter a relationship having fully cultivated their own personal relationship with themselves. If you know yourself, you’ll know what you want. Things will be clear. You won’t need someone to fill in the holes, you’ll just want someone who enhances who you already are – a complete person.
Don’t be scared of yourself. If you’re scared of yourself, then that’s the biggest sign that you need to dive in and face that fear. Being independent might seem daunting at first if you’re not used to it, but it’s freeing. So ask yourself – am I dependent on anyone or anything? Why? What would happen if I didn’t have this person in my life? Be honest with your answers. Don’t hide anymore. I promise you’ll come out alive, and probably stronger than ever.