Happy Independence Day to all the US writers and readers! That said, I'm not writing about the U.S. holiday. Instead, this entry takes a look at independence from a different viewpoint – the personal one.
The American Heritage Dictionary gives one definition of “independent” as: "free from the influence, guidance or control of others; self-reliant."
In a society where form is more important than context, where advertising shows us the “right” way to dress, act, dance eat…you name it, and where reality television is the drug of choice, true personal independence is difficult to find or develop. To stand alone, “free from the control of others” is often seen as a betrayal of the greater good. Someone who wants to explore individualism can be labeled “selfish.”
I live alone yet am influenced by friends, co-workers, family – not necessarily in that order - and the list isn’t complete. It's difficult to stand up for my beliefs, sometimes, because I don't want to anger anyone. Then, of course, I have to deal with my anger about not being true to my beliefs!
A question I ask myself periodically is how can I find self-reliance and true independence in our out-of-control-I know-all-the-answers-listen-to-me-instead-of-yourself-world?
How do we (because I invite you to join me in the quest) learn to understand our own needs and stand up for the right to nurture ourselves without being labeled selfish? How do we discover true freedom? There are as many replies to those questions as there are people in the world, because the answer can only come from within and takes introspection.
What works for me is to sit quietly and examine thoughts and actions which show independence. If you'd like to join in, celebrate your self-reliance when you choose to make a simple repair yourself. Push away the guilt that comes when you decide to relax instead of handling the chores you “should do” according to your mother’s teachings from twenty (or more) years ago. Determine what you want to do in every moment and stick with your plans then congratulate yourself on a “job” well done.
Personal independence is not easy and doesn’t come quickly, but once you decide to follow the self-reliant path, life will help you along, lifting you into a new state of mind. Freedom is a choice you make with every action you take. Take the opportunity of this U.S. Independence Day to free yourself. Fireworks, baby! That sky-high bling is all for you!