What is independence? Why do we all seek some form of it?
I've been trying to wrap my head around the core meaning inside both independence and revolution. Revolutions of all kinds are fought for independence and all independence is achieved through a revolution of some kind. Both are so powerful in their ideals that I want to include them in tandem.
I've been wanting to be independent my entire life. We all have. When we're kids, we can't wait to be bigger, taller, and older. As a child, by two weeks after my birthday I'd be telling people that I was a year older than I was. I couldn't wait to grow up. When we're teenagers we can't wait get our driver's license, to go off to college, to live on our own, and to make our own rules. Regardless of how much we love them, most of us have always prefered to not live under the thumb of our parents. When we're children, we can't wait to dictate the balance within our life, and I believe this remains true into adulthood whether we want to run our own business, get to a point where we can travel more easily, or simply to retire to do what we want.
In a changing economic world, the percentage of freelancers within our workforce is rising to an un precedented number. This is being caused by both necessity and design. While the concept of "keeping up with the Joneses" has been ongoing for centuries, one thing we need to be conscious about is the ideals these rising social norms are creating. We should absolutely want to move forward, but these ideals create a constant need to move forward over and over again, never being satisfied with where we are in the moment. I strongly believe that being present will help bring patience and serendipity into our lives. For years I always felt a need for more and, because of which, I was never satisfied with what I had and, most importantly, who I was. I'm not sure if living like this made me hate myself, but it definitely didn't make me love myself. I feared the unknown and as a result, I wasn't open.
Where are we right now? What are we doing? This exact moment is the only one that exists. By living in the now, I've learned to trust myself more deeply, which in turn has helped me turn my "needs" into "wants." Even if we're somehow not living up to our own expectations we're still right where we're supposed to be because we're learning something about ourselves each day.
I've been reevaluating what independence means to me. I recently took a trip to Austin, Texas to visit a friend for the fourth of July. The trip helped me grow in ways I couldn't have imagined prior to going. It also brought my friend and I closer in ways I didn't expect and couldn't have comprehended until I lived the experience. One of the biggest things I took from the trip is that the "where" we are physically in life is only as important as the "who" we're with and the "why" we're there. Who and why is the reason we're alive. We're no one if we can't share ourselves with others. It's those experiences with other people that shape us. The only times I've felt trapped are when I've felt paralyzed by fear of judgement and/or fear of the unknown. When I stop to think about it, what was I so afraid of? Judgement? Does judgement ever kill us? We get no where in life without taking chances. We can't take chances if we're not living in the now, feeling everything that is around us, and understanding that our instincts are always true. Think about times we spent allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with people we love and care about. In the midst of these experiences do we ever feel trapped? I think we always feel like we're right where we're supposed to. That is the meaning of independence.
Independence isn't a thing we can purchase. It's not a place we're yet to go. True independence is independence of thought and emotion. It's the ability to appreciate what we're living as we're living it, and the ability to be grateful for the experience we're going through. Each experience is something that is designed to help us grow. Independence is right now. So is happiness. All we have to do is be willing to be vulnerable enough to achieve it.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article called "Why, More Than Ever, The Importance of A Strong Sense of Community is Being Highlighted." In the article I mentioned a few commercials I had recently seen which were instructing us to move faster and faster. Instead, let's slow down and look around at what we're seeing. Life is absolutely not about the destination. We can't get anywhere without the journey and if we don't pay attention to the journey we'll never understand why we're here. Why would anyone bother to go anywhere if they didn't enjoy the trip?
The next time you feel like you're about to spin out of control pause and take a deep breath. Stop yourself dead in your tracks and really look around at what you're seeing. Notice that we're living in a beautiful, lush world that's teeming with life. If there is something that you're truly not enjoying the best way to begin to change it is to change your perspective on it. Every experience is an opportunity to grow. If we're not growing, what are we doing? Do not fear the unknown. The unknown is just happiness we're yet to realize.
Many people are struggling for various reasons, be they financial, social, or spiritual. I truly believe that by banding together with those we care about we can get rid of all these problems. It took me years to realize that independence can only be achieved with others. I feel most independent when I'm around people I love, allowing myself to be vulnerable by expressing love with them. Every single hardship we have in life comes from a place of what's we think is missing, when in fact, we can always look at what's here. What's here is a wonderful world filled with dynamic life that has limitless potential. All we have to do to experience it is be willing to live in the moment and surround ourselves with people we care about. The only thing we can take with us are our experiences. Our experiences shape who we are. Our experiences are what make us independent. It's just that true independence isn't independence from you or I, it's independence from fear, insecurity, and stagnation.
We all seek inner peace and happiness. What's the best way to achieve it? Get out there and break some walls.
This article was originally published here.