First Time Out
It’s funny the way that words work and how they have so many different meanings and so many different forms. When said in one context, a word can mean something so different than if it were said in another context. Being independent can mean so many different things and has so many forms.
Independence is not only a word, but an action, a feeling, a way of life, and such an important aspect of being an adult that I have yet to even figure out its true definition myself.
What does one do when in the process of figuring out what something really means? One action to take is to look it up in the dictionary. As I sit here with my Webster’s Dictionary open to the correct page, I am still not convinced that I have fully comprehended the meaning of the word “independent”. Webster defines it as follows:
Independent; free from outside control, not depending on another’s authority.
Then beneath that there is another definition that reads;
Not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.
So, what does this tell us? Does it tell us that being independent means to be free from outside control? Does that mean we should not listen to our parents or our teachers in school? Does being independent mean we should say “no” when a professor asks us to write a paper? Maybe we should throw our hands in the air and crawl into bed when our boss tells us to come in for work.
I think that independence is something different for all of us. I always thought I knew what it was or what I wanted it to be, but I don’t think that I ever really experienced independence until this year and I believe that what I have experienced of it is only a taste. I guess the first time I felt independent was when I moved away from home and into the dorms at the college I was attending. I was nervous, but so excited, and I think that both of those emotions are huge ones that preclude the feeling of being independent.
Living away from home was awesome. There were so many things that I enjoyed like the freedom and the privacy away from everyone at home. I didn’t have to share anything and I could keep my room in any condition I wanted. I could come home at three in the morning and wake up at four in the afternoon. However, with every positive there is always a negative to follow. With that being said, I am not trying to sound like a pessimist, but more a realist.
I learned a lot. I learned that if I stayed out until three in the morning and slept until four in the afternoon, that I would be absolutely exhausted and my whole day would be ruined. I learned about loneliness and that sometimes I would rather have people around me than not at all. I missed family dinners on Sundays and my little sister stealing my clothes.
Being independent teaches you a lot about yourself and the scary thing about that, is that it is not always easy to learn the truth about who you are. Being on my own ignited
a new perspective in me that I would have never gained if I were in the comfort of my own home. When out of your comfort zone and thrown into situations that make you feel on edge sculpt us into the grown ups that we are supposed to become in the world Suddenly, all the friends that I used to hangout with and spend all my time with began to look so minuscule in my eyes. I began to see them for their true colors and their true motives for being a part of my life and I no longer found time to entertain them. I figured out what relationships in my life were worth hanging on to and which were absolutely worth letting go of. When it all comes down to it, I ended up really surprising myself and I pushed people out of my life that I once thought would never leave it. I also learned that some of the people that were so hard to let go of were actually the most important to move on from.
Life is all about making choices that are good for you. If there is one thing that I have learned recently, it is that it is so important to make choices that are beneficial for your future. People, myself included, are often weighing their decisions based on the actions and feelings of other people, and that is where I believe we are at fault. That is
where we stumble and lose course because life and your choices are about YOU and only you.
I sometimes think that we were created with our hearts bigger than our heads because it is so hard to make choices when they are not both in an agreement. I believe that real independence within yourself is learning how to make a choice that both your heart and your head agree on. It is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish, but when it is executed, nothing ever feels so good.
Alexandra was born in Red Bank, New Jersey and moved to Scottsdale, AZ with her family in 2002. She is currently pursuing her college degree in English and Psychology.