I’m all for independence. After all, Independence Day is definitely a top ten holiday, and “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child is the perfect throwback jam. Today, we live in a culture that places an incredible amount of emphasis on being independent—but what if our strong-willed perspective is doing us more harm than good?
Last semester, I finally got tired of acting like I had it all together on my own. My first year at college was marked by a feeling of blissful independence. I was fortunate to have a lot of awesome opportunities to travel and meet new people, so my life both on and off campus was always full. However, things changed towards the end of the fall semester my second year. Those opportunities to travel and meet new people were a lot less frequent, and I found myself nearly starting life from scratch three hours from home.
As a sophomore in college, I missed my mom and my friends from my hometown more than I did as a freshman. I felt like everyone around me had conquered this phase already while it was just getting started for me. At first, I felt like maybe it was just something I had to power through on my own—or like it was someone else’s responsibility to notice what I was feeling. I soon realized I could only turn things around by accepting that as a human, our lives are more interwoven with the lives of other humans than we could ever imagine.
We were never designed to do this life completely on our own. It’s human nature to crave the acceptance, love, entertainment, knowledge, and other gifts that we can only gain from relationships with other people. We should never solely base our self-worth on the number of friends we have or how well-liked we think we are, but we also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we’ve been given each other for a reason.
Author Hannah Brencher sums it up beautifully: “And so if you ask me what I believe in, I’ll start by telling you the truth: I believe that we’re underestimating how much we’re supposed to mean to one another.”
In the past few months, I’ve been more intentional about seeking and maintaining fulfilling friendships. I am constantly learning that it’s okay to ask for help, to be the first person to text or call, or to smile at someone while walking past them instead of staying buried in my phone. These small declarations of love for other people make life a lot more pleasant to live. I hope that if you’re reading this and you too have felt the pressure to hold the entire world up on your own shoulders alone, you’ll see that you don’t have to. Give time and love freely to those around you, and watch the small but beautiful ways life starts to change as a result. We all need reassurance, so why act like we don’t?
Author: Julia Knaggs, Tennessee
Ziglar Youth Certified Trainer