This concept of independence is odd at best. Its popularized understanding favours a certain type of individual. Particularly one living on their own, fully responsible for all of their shit, and has their life in order. It’s drilled in our minds that true independence is stripping ourselves of completely any dependency. But independence is quite subjective if you think deeper. I think there are levels to independence, and my big issue with the term is that it’s thrown around like a frisbee, hitting some of us in the neck.
I don’t mind saying that I’m not entirely an independent individual. There’s this strange idea that not being ‘independent enough’ is being looked down upon. We don’t have the energy nor the money to spend on apartments, condos, and homes. And so what if we’d like to continue saving for one in the future? We don’t have to rent right away.
It’s drilled into us that we have to be living alone right out of high school or university and that not doing such makes you a momma’s this or daddy’s that. We’re not whipped by any means. We’re being smart with our money.
How is spending money on meaningless rent a sign of independence? You could easily save that money and wait until the time is right to move out. Taking risks is a part of life, but so is avoiding them.
My Personal Experience
While working at a digital marketing agency a few years ago, I went out to dinner with a few of my coworkers. We spoke about our lives, being that this was our first dinner out together. I was shocked anyway because my friend, let’s call her Tarzan, had been begging to go for dinner for months, and I had told her to plan it out, which she did. But it was just the two of us. On the day of the dinner, the Friday, as we were about to leave, she asked everyone if they wanted to come. I was kinda put off, it wasn’t like I wanted to date her, I just felt like homegirl was acting hella desperate. Sit the fuck down, girl; nobody wants to hang with us. It’s starting to get embarrassing now. Well, one of them said yes. I wasn’t mad or anything,
So the three of us walked from our office downtown to a bumpin’ Indian restaurant. As we walked in, I saw my ex-manager from this greasy restaurant I used to work at. He was a tool, but he was nice to my mom, who used to work there before I did. I was confused about why he was now working here, considering he didn’t like brown people too much at the previous restaurant we worked at. I wonder how this experience was any different, especially now that the target audience was us “brown folk.” He was a lover of the caucasity. Nonetheless, I sat down and took my eyeglasses off. I’m nearsighted so without the eyeglasses, I didn’t have to see him.
The conversation of independence was brought up. I defended myself, bringing up many of the points that I have in this article. The truth is that I do feel independent, I take care of my own finances, I pay my own bills, I have a full-time job. So what if I get dropped off at the train station, my dad drives to work on the way…
Anyways, Tarzan, from India, felt the strange need to call me out. Saying that it wasn’t true independence...Girl fuck you and fuck off. I was pretty surprised by her because in Punjab, where she as well as my parents are from, is very of the mindset that you need to shape your children with the skills and finances they need to expand. Over there, families live together from beginning to end, unless they obviously immigrate elsewhere. But if you go there, you’ll find the kids, their parents, and their parents. No home is ever just an individual. I also thought back to her telling me that her dad wasn’t in the picture.
Luckily, my Ukrainian Kruchenyky, Roberta, had my back. She was originally from Ukraine, she’d lived around the world, most recently in London. Here she was in Vancouver now. She respected my choices stating that we’re all at different points in our lives, and there were pros and cons to the way that each of us lived. Independence is a mindset; we all must grow into being truly on our own, but it’s nobody’s right to criticize your lifestyle.
I definitely didn’t like Tarzan too much after that. It wasn’t because of the differences in opinions; it was because of her sheer ignorance. I kept my distance. She felt that it was her place to criticize my choices and lifestyle. Girl. Bye.
The Double Standard
But it did bring me to think about society and how independence is framed as the “superior way of living.” It’s as if this is a black-or-white scenario. You’re either independent or dependent. There is no in-between.
Breaking news: there absolutely is because it’s a fucking spectrum. Who’s to say that all your actions are that of independence? I bet they aren’t.
Oh, you’re independent? Why do you call your parents or friends when you have problems? Stay independent bitch. Put your phone away hoe.
Independence is not a yes or no. It’s a mindset.
The Media’s Role in Defining Independence
Society’s portrayal of independence is so damaging because it casts a negative light upon those that choose to hold off on leaving home so that they can save up and leave when they are in a more financially stable position. This is something that should actually be celebrated for because it exhibits financial awareness.
Society and the media have painted this unreal expectation that we young folk can buy/rent a place right out of high school.
Hear me out, how in the fuck are you going to pay for the following every month, all while having a job and a social life:
- Bills on top of bills
Get. The. Fuck. Out.
If you are in the fortunate position to have resources available to you, you shouldn’t be looked down upon for that.
And if you can take a huge risk and go out and do all this ‘independent stuff,’ that’s a significant achievement for you. Once again: FOR YOU.
Everyone Needs Support
And people think that we, who live with our parents, are the only ones relying on them. No, girl, it’s a relationship of reliance. We give, and we take. I don’t know what parents some of you grew up with, but the parent-child relationship wavers from youth to adult.
We begin by learning, but soon the relationship melts over into one where we are helping our parents with 21st-century, millennial problems.
The simple truth is that we’re all trying to find ourselves. Having judgment passed on us is neither friendly nor productive when building relationships. No one is truly 100% independent; we rely on friends, family, coworkers, and even pedestrians for help throughout the day. That’s called dependence motherfucker. Broaden your understanding of what true independence is. It’s a spectrum of things. Don’t pigeonhole your thinking; that’s all that I’m saying.