This article is part of a series known as #30DaysOfThanks

my independence

I like to think I have garnered a lot of good qualities throughout my life, qualities that make people say “have you met Sarah, she is pretty awesome!” But scouring down the list I find myself focusing on just one, a quality often difficult to master but something I consider the very backbone of the successful life I have created: independence.

The dictionary definition of independence describes it as something which is free from outside control; not subject to another’s authority. It is also not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence. I am proud to represent both halves of this definition and grateful for the massive impact it has made on my life.

Independence has coursed through my veins like some sort of semi-addictive drug for as long as I can remember. As a child, I was happiest when left to do what I wanted to do and was always the first to leave Mum’s side to explore new parts of our world. As I grew up my independence flourished and I became my own best friend.

Of course I have an amazing social circle and enjoy their company, but am also completely content being on my own, enjoying a little (or a lot) of “me time.”

Since the age of 18, I have been almost 100% financially independent from my parents and although this was one of the hardest lessons to learn, it has also been possibly the most rewarding. I have developed the skills to not only stand on my own two feet but to flourish while others are living on noodles and potato chips until their parents can put more money into their accounts.

So why do I love being so strongly independent?

Strangely enough, I’ve found increased independence has led me to further develop additional key life skills along the way. Because I am adamant about not relying on others to push me along in life or solve my problems, my confidence in my own self and abilities has tripled. To this day I still believe confidence is the cornerstone to a successful life, it leads you to open so many doors you thought previously shut.

In addition to confidence, it has helped my self esteem and allowed me to stave off loneliness when I find myself in times of social drought. Also, after starting a long distance relationship this year, independence has been the single thread holding my resolve together some days; knowing that I will be ok on my own until I see him again is something I have to remind myself of over and over again.

Although these have all been vital in creating my personality today, the key bi-product I’ve developed from independence is the need to take responsibility.

There is nothing I disagree with more than those who rely on others for their happiness. The pursuit of “nirvana” isn’t about waiting around until someone (or God) decides to give it to you. It is a craft you have to constantly work at everyday, free from the constraints or authority of anyone else. It can be scary separating yourself from others and taking 100 percent of the responsibility but you are safeguarding yourself against negative influence in the future. Trust me you will be thankful you did it!

As I write this, I feel the little devil on my shoulder saying, “oh but independent people are often confused as being arrogant, as if they rule the world and don’t need any input from others.”

Although I usually try to dissuade this little voice, in this case he has a valid point. Strongly independent people can come across as cold, single minded and not team players; and the surprising element is that sometimes these perceptions are true. But the key to being a successfully independent person is balancing the two, learning when to take the lead on your own and when to be diplomatic and understanding of your wider social environment. It takes a little practice and after being called “Ice Queen” by my friends for many years, I understand it’s a tricky line to walk. But I wouldn’t change it for the world and am so grateful to have had the chance to learn the difference.

So next time you find yourself stuffing your social calendar with appointments, maybe consider scheduling one with yourself and get to know you and your independent side. It can be emotionally (and physically!) painful to experience something unfamiliar but it is a character building opportunity I am forever indebted to and wish the same for you too. 

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