A few weeks ago I went for coffee with a friend in Little Italy. We chatted about new recipes to try over lovely cups of coffee, and both opted out of the vanilla slices that were calling our names. We gabbed about life, family, and all such types of things– plans for summer, upcoming events, etc. She made a comment at the end of our time together that I come across as someone “who has it all together.” Funny how things are rarely as they seem. Unfortunately, success in our Western culture can be defined as who can trick others into thinking they have it all together the best. Apparently I’m doing alright on that front.
Fast forward to yesterday. Once again I get a comment about “having it all together” and got chatting with an acquaintance about independence. I was raised to be independent. When I left for university, neither of my parents cried, they just hugged me and told me to have fun. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered my mom promptly went in the house and started crying as soon as I left. When I was in primary and secondary school, my parents had a strict hands-off policy with teachers. They were not going to be the ones going to bat for their kids over every tiny little thing. Their approach was to learn to take both bad and good, and when possible, turn the former into the latter. As such, independence is built into my very being. I don’t understand needy and dependent people. Often they drive me a bit nuts. My approach is, “if you don’t like it, change it.” But lately, I’ve been wondering if my independent streak doesn’t also come with disadvantages– I mean besides being aggravated by people who won’t help themselves.
I was chatting with some of my friends the other evening (yes, chatting happens often in my life), and we got onto the topic of dating and independence. It’s no secret that I haven’t had a boyfriend in five years and that I can count on one hand the number of dates I’ve gone on in that same five years. I’m to the point where I wonder if men just think I’m so independent that I don’t need anyone else. Do I come across as someone who eats men for breakfast? Do I come across as so independent they see no place left for them in my life? It’s a possibility. But the truth is that independence doesn’t negate the desire to have someone come and live life alongside you. Yes, I can take my own car to the mechanic, and I can even change a tire, although I prefer not to. But some of my independence is built not only on nature, but necessity. I am a single woman. I am living on earth, as a human. Things need to get done in my life. If I am the only one who will take care of those things, then I’m going to learn darn quick how to do them. Just because a woman is independent, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t value having someone come along side to support or help. I don’t ever want to lose my independence, but don’t think for a second that all independent women are that way only on nature.
I just found out an acquaintance is pregnant after a one night stand. She’s single, the father is out of the picture. I admire her for choosing to follow through on the pregnancy, and while she’s an independent person, there’s no way she wants to do this alone. Don’t get me wrong, she’ll do it if she has to. She’ll do what necessity dictates. But having someone there to hold you up on life’s journey, to have someone there that you too can support when they need it most? We all need that– independent or no.