For a long time, I have always felt the need to be seen as an independent person. Growing up in a family of artists, everyone in my family had things to do — and taking care of each other was not one of them. We all loved each other. We still do. But my parents were all dreamers with big goals, and they did what they wanted to, when they wanted to.
Naturally, I grew up to be financially and emotionally independent at a very young age. I didn’t rely on my parents for money or help. Rather, I found a way to get my own stuff done. Everyone around me would tell me that I was a “good daughter” or “better than a son” for someone “my age”.
To be honest, I was a little proud of being the perfect little girl at the time. I took pride in the fact that I was able to make a living with my own power, give my parents financial support, and keep a fragile family together by being the emotional support and middle person in my parents’ fights.
People often mistake independence for isolation.
In my second year of college, my body and mind both burned out– leaving me drained of all my energy. I wanted to stay strong, so I forced myself to work and study as if nothing was wrong. I isolated myself from my loved ones and friends, knowing that this emotional baggage would be a burden to them.
Now that I think back on it, the reason I struggled so hard back in those years was not that I was tired. It wasn’t just stress from studying or a specific physical medical condition. The actual struggle was knowing I had no one to trust, no one to rely on.
My independence was a facade, to say the least. I now know that independence isn’t about doing everything myself. It isn’t living with the compulsive idea that no one can help me but myself. For me, independence is the ability to grow and motivate myself, through emotional and intellectual interactions with people who enlighten me. It’s about being able to sustain my own well-being, having enough to share, and being in a state of mind that enables me to give and receive help in friendly encounters.