Be Your Own Person

hikerDid you know that 19 countries celebrate their independence in July? These include the U.S. (July 4), Argentina (July 9th), Belgium (July 21st) and Peru (July 28th).

Canada Day (July 1st) is more of a birthday celebration, but I’m sure if you’re Canadian you enjoy your independence as well.

I got to thinking about the concept of independence. We know what it means when young people declare independence from parents. But what does independence mean to parents estranged from their adult children?

The Many Faces of Freedom

The online dictionary offers no fewer than 7 definitions for the word “independent.”

1. Not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker.
2. Not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free: an independent businessman.
3. Not influenced by the thought or action of others: independent research.
4. Not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.
5. Not relying on another or others for aid or support.
6. Rejecting others’ aid or support; refusing to be under obligation to others.
7. Possessing a competency: to be financially independent.

Looking over the list above, it seems to me that parents can enjoy independence even while their hearts remain open to their estranged child or children.

Not Just for Kids

You may feel jaded by the concept of independence. Especially if your child has cut you off in the name of it. You might have experienced yourself as the thing someone wants to be independent from.

But you need autonomy, too. The right to think and act for yourself. The right to an existence that’s not “depending or contingent upon” anything or anyone else.

No one is an island. But some of us could stand to be a little more … island-ish.

Declare Your Independence

When it comes right down to it, you’re a free agent. Think about areas of your life where you could take the wheel more often.

Do you let others decide where you eat, shop, hike, or take vacations? Does someone else determine when you do these things?

Is your level of exercise what you’d like it to be, or is it at someone else’s convenience?

Do you defer to others’ desires or opinions more often than you need to?

Here are a few ways to celebrate your independence:

  • Go to a movie alone.
  • Dress to suit yourself.
  • Stop reading books or watching movies you’re not interested in.
  • Take yourself out to dinner.
  • Sign up for a class or activity that attracts you, even if no one wants to do it with you.
  • Practice polite disagreement.
  • Refuse to place your happiness in anyone else’s hands.
  • Give yourself what you know you need.

For more ideas, check out this wonderful article full of tips on how to be independent.

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