I hear it all the time.
“I’m an independent woman.”
About 20 percent of me wants to identify with this.
Factually, I have been raising children since I was 18, graduated college while working, breastfeeding and raising two babies, making my own household products and living the supermom life.
At 22, I became a founding member of a thriving environmental charter school. I became the first in my family to leave the father of her children (though others may not understand this feat, it’s definitely healing for a lineage of “dependent” women who put up with way more sh*t than I promised myself I’d allow).
At 25, I bought a house without telling any one in my family before signing the papers because I knew I’d have to deal with their nay-saying due to my extremely limited income and two children.
I didn’t want to let their fear stop me.
By 27, I finished graduate school and a year-long coaching certification program after working in the field of mental health for 10 solid years. By 29, I opened a private practice in the building I had planted the seed to open a practice in five years before.
I use discernment as to who I let enter my life, heart, home and practice. I spent five years as a single woman solely for the purpose of working out the energetic kinks I had in my own psyche before I entered into a relationship. My fear as an “independent” woman was that by the time I had figured out my own patterns and was ready to allow someone in, I’d be so stuck in my ways I wouldn’t budge for their existence. I’d need to find just the right piece to fit in my own psychic puzzle if I was going to share my life with someone.
Clearly, I did not need any one person to help me get what I wanted out of life. Partnership felt much more like a choice than a social status I felt compelled to buy into. This is all a picture of the “independent” woman I am, right?
I don’t recall the words, “I am an independent woman” ever coming out of my mouth. Sure, I guess I’d love to fit in with all of the memes and rants on social media about connecting with all of the other “independent” women out in the world, but I have a hard time aligning with the Miss Independence thing.
Here’s why: I believe independence is knowing when to be dependent. I believe independence only exists based on one simple truth in Universal law: Interdependence. I find a lot of claims of “independence” to eventually lead to stagnation in the physical body, anger at others for not living up to their standards, and honestly, a lonely, rigid and possibly boring life.
Let’s face it, we do not do this whole life thing alone! We need people. We have people. People assisted us in getting where we are. Even those that broke and shattered us, taught us to build from nothing. We couldn’t have done the “I” that we do today, if it wasn’t for them.
The annoying parents that stood in our way, gave us life. The teachers who believed in us. The friends that saw through to our soul even when we were out of integrity. The boss. The paycheck. The car. The education.
The everything that brought us to this very moment is a symbol of interdependence.
Yes, I can independently choose where and when to show up to my life and its possibilities. I can steer the direction of my existence, but not without being humbled by the interdependence that must take place for me to remain “independent.”
I may have to go fishing for the things I want and select the pond I want to fish from, but without the damn fish I don’t get what I want. I need the fish. That’s a pretty hierarchical metaphor which it isn’t intended to be, but you catch the line I’m throwing, right?
I believe independence is knowing when to be dependent. Honoring the part of ourselves that allows us to surrender to another as we are humbled by the grace we exist within called, interdependence.
I don’t highly value “I am an independent woman” coming from a woman who hasn’t yet acknowledged all of the pieces that came together (good or bad) to put her here. Sadly, a lot of women who say this are so “independent” they don’t even see the beauty of interdependence flowing constantly around them. I don’t blame them, but I am hoping that this is a wake-up call to gratitude and a bit of egoic-surrender.
I value the independent type woman who leans on her independence to make choices for the greater good of herself, her life and her community, acknowledging each person, place and situation’s rightful place in her ever evolving up-bringing while acknowledging the art of interdependence.
Independently, I claim, I am proudly an inter-dependent woman.
Author: Stacy Lee Hoch
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Sandra Cockayne / Pixoto