Recently when out shopping with a close friend, I noticed her eyeing up a pretty necklace. Relieved to have found an idea for her birthday present, I offered to buy it. However, she stubbornly refused, retorting sharply, “I prefer to earn the stuff I buy. It makes me appreciate it more”. I was so dumbfounded by her vehement rejection of my generosity, that it prompted me to examine views of independence. Could this stinging response to my well-intentioned offer be considered a virtue?
Society promotes the image of the capable women as an ideal: a woman who is physically, economically and emotionally, wholly independent inspires us. But will this type of resolute independence bring about our demise?
Feminism and a self-reliant lifestyle, liberated from the needs of others has never been more fashionable. But what happens when we believe that we must do and be everything? Is there a point where we can be too independent, too autonomous, that we erect barriers between others and ourselves? Yes, women can do all things! But being an independent woman shouldn’t mean that that we become detached from others – isolated in our fight to succeed through own efforts. Having a “me against the world” mentality puts us at risk of causing barriers in our relationships. We are made for community; it’s not healthy to be emotionally disconnected from others. We compromise our effectiveness when we stand alone.
Is it a desire for perfectionism, a need for control or is it an issue of pride that stops us from reaching out? Continually asserting our independence is unrealistic and at times unnecessary and wearing. Our lives may be totally in our control but overburdening ourselves with too many responsibilities will only make us less effective and can leave us mentally and emotionally exhausted. It’s okay to let others lend a helping hand and submit to acts of kindness.
We grow by challenging ourselves, but we are stronger when we know our limits and have the honesty and humility to ask for, and be willing to receive help. The greatest feats that have faced humanity have been conquered through team work.
Overcoming pride or whatever fuels or assertion for independence and graciously receiving help in whatever form it is offered will ultimately strength us – together we can achieve the extraordinary!