I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t, do you know what that means?
I’m riding down Highway 29 with tunes of Boosie blasting from my radio…
Cruising in the car that I bought and paid off all on my own…
Coming from a shopping trip at the mall where I spent my own money on my son that I take care of…
Headed home to work on my next blog post and complete some graduate school work before I begin my daily night ritual of getting ready for work in the morning…
Life’s great, right?
I mean I am handling my business. Some of my high saddity friends would exclaim, “Your ducks are unquestionably in a row lovely. Keep it up!” Whereas, my ratchet boodaddies might say something more along the lines of, “Eowww you better do that shit girl. We eating all year bay (clap) bee!”...to be real, both equally get me hype, encouraged, and gassed.
Yet no matter how you paint the picture, it happens. You know...it. It penetrates through the busyness of my life. It seeps through the comments of praise and uplift from family and friends. It blatantly ignores my accomplishments and disregards my growth. It finds me and blows my entire happy high.
...And all of sudden I’m now riding down the highway no longer obnoxiously rapping along with Boosie and gesturing as if I have the leading role as a boss chick in his music video.
No. Now the slow melodic tunes from Ella Mai’s “Shot Clock” have taken over and in a flash I am painstakingly reminded that though I am riding through the town as a successful woman, that’s just it.
I am riding.
What is this it? - - It’s that voice that brings me back down to earth from my “I’m killing it” high. It’s the voice that reminds me that I’m not a wife. Hell, I’m not even an actual/official girlfriend. Guys have called me everything from “wife material”, “a reflection of their strong mother”, and “a queen”. Yet, why then do men treat me and other independent women as if “Run…FAST” is plastered across our forehead?
Now I’m not saying men don’t flirt, comment, like pictures on the gram and so forth. However, historically I have found in my experience that as soon as men really get a whiff of my “independence” and what it entails (i.e. a crazy schedule) they either:
1) run for the hills because my accomplishments tend to disturb their own sense of self, security, their ego, and their pride
2) constantly try to “one-up” me in an effort to flex and show me that I may be great, but ehh not that great… perhaps putting me down as way to remind me of why I still need them
I’m sure this is not all men, but it is some of what I’ve encountered. Stay with me, though, and let me speak my piece. I promise it will be worth it.
There’s a person, man or woman, reading this right now trying to approach someone just like me - - someone that is whole (confident, aware of his/her worth, mentally well, etc.) and doesn’t necessarily need “rescuing”. Keep reading friend. There’s likely a chance that this blog will help you develop an approach for someone that “has it all together” - - because the “you need me approach” may get you left on read buddy. You may find that us independent folk, men and women, are not scary at all and want you to approach us just as much as you want to...
How Did It Come to This?
I’d like to think that I haven’t always been this way -- independent. When I look through some pictures of me as a little girl, the innocence and naivety I had to life jumps at me from the photos. I’m reminded that there was a time when I didn’t set requirements for people. In fact, everyone had unlimited access to my vulnerability, transparency, and big ol’ heart. When you’re young, you tend to look at life like that - - this big pretty place filled with honest people that will always reciprocate your love. Everyone is “good” when you’re young.
So, where did lines get crossed? What happened to me? Though some of you would like to think that this “tough girl” act is a choice or that my independency has everything to do with being a “man hater”, I’d like to correct you -- it’s not. In fact, I don't hate men at all. Beneath my "go getter" exterior, I am actually a big sap. Like many other independent individuals, I didn’t pray to God, “Oh please enable me with the ability to do everything on my own so that I don’t need a nigga for anything”. Life just happened.
Maybe it was when reality hit me in grade school. I learned at an early age that my family was different. Later in life I would learn that the appropriate term to describe that difference was “low socioeconomic status”. Still, I find it crazy that home can seem so perfect until you’re in a classroom full of other second graders that have never had to wear hand me downs or eat “oodles and noodles with hot dogs for dinner”. I learned quickly that if I wanted to make it out I had to take the initiative to work for that shit. It wasn't going to be handed to me. Perhaps this is when my independence was birthed.
Maybe it was when I found out I was pregnant at age 17 and soon realized that I’d be an independent, single parent that did it. I was still a baby myself but I went to 99% of those doctors’ appointments alone and after giving birth, I had no choice but to boss up. After all, you can’t sit around and cry when you have a newborn crying because he’s hungry. I remember needing a car for us to get around and to get to work. I ended up buying my first car from a craigslist ad for $1000 and it really looked like how much it cost – cheap and raggedy. Still, I went on to become a first generation college student that maintained multiple jobs throughout the journey. You tell me: Did I choose to be independent or was it mandatory for my survival?
Maybe it was a failed relationship that I stayed in even when we grew emotionally distant. Anybody know what it feels like to live independently (in your mind) but yet still be IN a relationship? -- refusing to end the relationship because you see others’ relationships that don’t look much different than yours so you think it might just be the way it is. Be it feeling alone in a relationship or being single without a relationship – each situation can teach ANYONE a thing or two about living independently.
Maybe it was working in corporate America as a black woman and being forced to have some tough skin in a place where microagressions are commonplace. You have to learn how to hold your own. There’s that depending on myself to survive thing again.
The point I am trying to make is that I didn’t necessarily ask to be the woman that can do it all on her own. For many independent people, this is the case. Life experiences, circumstances, childhood, and other factors may cause people to begin relying on SELF for one reason or another.
The gag is: Independent people want love just like the next person or at least I know I do.
Since I have learned how to survive on my own, I don’t necessarily look for a savior. A savior implies that I am incapable of saving myself—which isn’t the case. That’s not to say that I don’t want to have a helpmate to be my equal partner in life and help me take the load off sometimes. I do. I would love to be COMPLETELY vulnerable, too. However, I’m looking to have a healthy relationship, not an attachment in which I JUST NEED someone to fill a void for my self-esteem, self-worth, and so forth (those voids are already filled with self-love).
So, How Do You Approach the “Independent Person”?