I feel like we live in a society where “independence” is looked at in one way, and if we don’t fit that description then we’re just liars and not really independent… we just wish we were.

To be an independent person is often portrayed as someone who can do everything for himself, and needs no one.

Whereas, when I think of independence, I think of someone who can find a way to take care of their needs without awaiting permission from others, and not having this idea that they have to do it all themselves.

In some senses, I’m dependent. In a lot of ways, I’m independent.

When I think of the first descriptor above, it strikes me as very masculine. The man who does all the things, and provides in a very physical way. In the modern world, and this is a huge generalisation, he’s the one who fixes the car, and does all the DIY without any help “from a professional,” he gets himself to where he needs to be and gets the job done. Regardless of what that is. He’s also the guy who won’t ask for directions, likes to tell people, rather than ask, and won’t take advice/input from anyone.

When I think of my version of independence, it’s as a woman who knows what she wants and needs in life, doesn’t wait for permission, or a nod of agreement then goes out there and finds a way to have that, regardless of what it is.

One very recent example for me, was a conversation about decorating.

I, like most, want to live in a nicely decorated house… does my independence mean I should be climbing ladders, aggrieving my already injured shoulders and wasting half my day doing something I neither enjoy or am overly skilled at? No.
My version of independence requires me to make the decision of how I want things to be, then find the people who can help me achieve that. In this case: hire a decorator, tell them how I want it to be, leave them to it.

How does this make me any less independent than someone willing to climb a ladder?

It doesn’t.

What it does, it gets me what I want, efficiently, to a higher standard than I could provide for myself, and it allows me the time freedom, and the energy to focus on my strengths and areas of focus that I choose.

Sometimes, that’s being a mum. Sometimes, working and writing. Sometimes, just sitting and having a coffee. Sometimes, I might even watch a movie.

By trying to live in the very masculine version of “independence” of doing it myself, I miss out on so much more of my life – the things that light me up, that I enjoy, and that I want to give my attention to. I also turn into a cranky bitch that no one should need to be around, least of all me. I don’t actually like being in a “bad mood” and snapping at people (most of the time).

Besides, when I hire someone to do that job for me, not only do I get what I want, I help them use their skills and talents to achieve their own independence too.

It’s the cycle of life.

If we were all good at everything, or insisted on doing everything for ourselves all the time, there would be no use for others.

We’d never meet people with exceptional talents.
There would be no use for, or gain from collaboration.
The majority of self employed people/small business owners wouldn’t have anything to do.
We would live in a much less interesting world.

I am an advocate for focusing on our strengths.
We each have them, and they’re different for everyone. Even the ones in a similar area specialise in a different way.

There’s no reason for us to be good at, or try to be good at everything all the time. We need to be more selective about what we give our time and attention to.

And by me choosing to give my time and attention to what is important to me, and focusing on my strengths, and outsourcing the rest… you can bet I’m all kinds of independent that other people don’t recognise.

Independence is about making a choice that best serves you, then following through on it, without waiting for permission or approval from someone else.

I am an independent woman.
I serve me.

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