We are all free. That’s what Independence Day is about. Political independence is not all life is about, however, otherwise we would all be happy already. We want more freedom, we want to be independent from other things like toxic or passive-aggressive relationships.
We can always stand and protest for political independence but relationship independence isn’t so simple. It’s about regaining of our reactions to the way people relate to us. Here are a few straightforward ways to measure your relationship independence.
You don’t care if they forget about you.
Really, what’s the point of living in your own penthouse and driving an Audi when you have an anxiety attack from someone not returning your call right away or get nervous about an insta-photo that didn’t get enough likes? And yes, it is annoying when no one comes up to you to say “Hi” at a networking event but you don’t need any of that if you are independent of the attention people give you. Become independent of attention.
Independence from attention is better than tax-less tea. It’s one of the most fearsome experiences you may ever have. Your life literally becomes a productive rave once you have it because finally, you can quit waiting for other people to respond or recognize you. If they do it’s great, if not, life goes on and you do what you do. Stop worrying about being noticed.
So at that next cliquish networking event when no one seems to be talking to you, continue eating your stuffed mushrooms and sip your Rosé and enjoy the heck out of them both. You are someone who enjoys being recognized or acknowledge, but you are not someone who needs to be.
People don’t have to tell you you’re good enough, you already know it.
This is what I call “independently awesome.” No one tells you you’re amazing. You just already know it.
Some people simply find joy in testing the security of others. They’ll poke fun at your degree in basket weaving, rub your personality up and down in order to see if your awesome opinion of yourself is independent or dependent. If you get defensive and angry you are dependent. If you can just be yourself you’re independent. It happens some among friends, occasionally with family, and a lot on first dates.
Don’t feel the need to make excuses for yourself. Be independent of the doubts people may have of you and just own up to every little single little strength or flaw about you. You live in the haunted Third Ward? Who cares, own up to it. You’re can’t play volleyball? You’re still awesome.
You can do fun things without other people
If Paul Revere could ride 22 miles alone in the middle of the night to protect our indepedence, you can go see Beauty and the Beast alone, you’ll be just fine. Nothing is going to happen to you. You’re not going to break down in loneliness. Be independent once in a while.
You can enjoy things alone without other people occasionally. You enjoy a film simply because it is a good film. And you enjoy hearing yourself laugh. Why wouldn’t you want to spend some time alone? You are nicer to yourself than anyone else in the world will be to you. So be independent and learn to spend time alone.
You don’t need people to be a certain way
We’re accustomed to think that picky people have high standards but the opposite is often true.
If you need a burger with nine toppings on a vegan whole grain bun with organic relish you’re a needy person.
If you can’t go on a first date with someone unless they are funny, intelligent, chill, independent, and watch Orange is the New Black, you’re also a needy person.
While it’s true we enjoy people who match our interests sometimes we also let our interests make us needy by becoming dependent on them. Break away, learn to be happy trying something new and daring. Don’t be dependent on your passions, hobbies or interests to have an enjoyable time.
This reminds me of a person who turned down a jogging date because she only ran on indoor treadmills. Nothing wrong with that but if it becomes a pattern in life you may broaden your abilities and be more independent of AC and indoor treadmills.
So fold up the list, learn to be independent by being happy with less.
None of this is meant to be anti-social. We need people in life but it’s another thing to be dependent on people who have no commitment to us.
Christ in the Bible affirms independence continuously. “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Lk 9:58). But he keeps going. He does not wait around for people to show him hospitality. The one person he depends on is God. That’s the one dependent relationship a man can have in this life.
Proclaim your independence by wearing red, white, and blue this weekend; but above all show yourself and the world your ability to become independent happy. No matter what happens or who you spend it with, just be happy.