The Struggles of Independence

Every year a new army of “kids” set out into the world with an eye to beat their own path, carve their own destiny. For some, this is easy: Their life walk is specially suited to fit their trajectory. For others, not so much: Their independence is met with adversity, whether via family pressure or emotional distress. Nonetheless, Jane or John (err, Emma or Liam, according to Baby Center’s most popular baby names of 2017) are going to set off “on their own” and lay claim to the life they want to lead. And if Jane, or John–or Emma, or Liam–are anything like I was when I decided to face life with teeth bared and heart aflutter, then they’re going to face struggles, and not the struggles they necessarily expected.

It’s a well established fact that leaving home can create rifts in your playing field, that is in your relationships (especially your closest relationships) and life goals. When there are extenuating circumstances it can be even worse. Shortly before I started living alone, somewhat separate from my family, my dear step-father, Ron, passed away. I hadn’t always had the best relationship with Ron, mostly closer to his passing, but he chose me and was as good a dad as anyone could be (see: Unconventional Role Models). After Ron’s passing, and as I moved into greater independence, there was a lot of reaction going on in my circle of reliance instead of the action needed to handle the situation. No one can be blamed for this, and I was no less part of the reacting, but it made for an even greater quake as I stepped out of what had been my comfort zone for 18 years.

I think most of us imagine becoming independent as getting out there to do and be what we’ve always wanted, or doing and being what we’ve always done and been. But, for a lot of us, that’s not the case (in fact, I’d say it rarely is), and instead we find ourselves changing. Sometimes we change drastically. The loud often become the reflective, and the hermits often become the party-planners. A lot of the time your circle won’t know how to handle this, and may choose not to handle it all or continue on as if a shift hasn’t happened. This is a painful time–a time when you can see years-long relationships crumble before your eyes, despite your every effort to communicate and/or comprehend.

Erin Lanahan, a writer for the site tinybuddha.com, says this in her article, “The Power of Change: How Leaving Home Can Bring You Home:”

 

“Sometimes, what we think we are being called to do changes. Our intuitive feelings will guide us in a particular direction, but then we have to stay open in order to recognize when it’s time to redefine who we are and what we want. We need to remember that it’s okay to change direction if that’s where our intuition is pointing.

When we let go of outcomes about how things are “supposed to” unfold, we better allow ourselves to create a life filled with purpose and meaning.

It won’t always seem easy or fun. As we navigate our way, all the internal barriers that keep us stuck in inauthentic patterns will surface and confront us. This is when the healing truly begins.”

 

I went through this exact scenario, as the person I’d always been came into direct conflict with the life I was now beginning. Some of my closest loved ones railed against this, chose not to see the signs and placed blame where none was due. This is something that, as I seeked out council on my transition into true adulthood, I discovered a lot of people around my age had gone through. New friendships, romantic developments, rotating perspectives–all the things that come with becoming independent–are going to alter your view on life, family, friends, and this is when we need to, as Erin Lanahan said, let go of our perceived outcome.

This letting go isn’t just for us though; our friends and family have to as well. And if your loved ones truly support you, they’ll allow themselves to learn, change, and grow with you. It may be difficult–no, it will be difficult–to draw the hard line with those who truly think they know what’s best for you, and are honestly trying to help you, but even their best of intentions can tear you down or derail you from the path you walk. Independence is a struggle; becoming the person you are is a struggle; but it’s a struggle worth fighting for. I’ll leave you with a quote:

 

The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.” – Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader.

 


 

In other news, the NW Book Fest on July 29th went way better than I even expected! I sold plenty of books and soon after applied to be featured in a local bookstore where I live. I’ll keep you all updated!

Here’s this week’s writing prompt:

Nothing is easy in this place, especially not…

Don’t forget you can email me the results of this writing prompt for a chance to get them shared here! My email is benjaminlawbooks@gmail.com.

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