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Independence means different things to each of us. Here is a warm story about rebellion, taking responsibility for yourself, and being truly independent.
Seeking approval, a need for acceptance, a fear of the unknown, a fear of making mistakes, of criticism, and of not being liked – are some of the worries that haunt independent women like you and me even today.
Long ago, when I was a gullible teenager, the definition of ‘independence’ was only ‘financial independence’. I was clueless of my dependence on my parents’ advice on the smallest of things like where to get my bike’s puncture repaired or how to use the kiosk at the electricity board office, or bigger things like handling a bad boss, or my roommate’s laziness despite earning money.
Little did I realize that my parents were also caught in the same trap of ‘protective parents’ whose protection bordered on fear and obsession to know everything, and give me their opinion on it. All my decisions were overshadowed by their take on whatever I did.
I was taught by my father (in particular) that I had to consult him before making a decision. To the extent where he chose my vocation after standard 10. I remember hovering near him while he sat hunched over all the application forms for the Science stream. I was meekly telling him in the background that I wanted to take up commerce. It was no surprise to me when I did not score well, and was a shock and embarrassment to him while all his colleagues’ daughters scored above 90%.
I remember hovering near him while he sat hunched over all the application forms for the Science stream. I was meekly telling him in the background that I wanted to take up commerce.
I think that was when I began to rebel.
My relationship with my parents was tumultuous. I was so lost in life that I blamed them for my failure. I blamed them for their lack of belief in their daughter. Blamed them for having such low standards. Blamed them for making me like them.
I went through 4 jobs I hated, was unemployed for a year spending increasing amounts of time shut in my room in embarrassment, was pitted against my successful sister, and was generally rejected by my parents just as I had rejected them.
One fine day, it was all over. I stood up, dusted my shoulder, and walked out into the sunshine. To hell with my past.
Now I sit with my parents, sipping tea. I look over my cup at their many grey strands of hair, their failing eyesight, their worry lines. I can smell their fear of old age from a distance. It pains me to understand that they too are a part of a system that beats the life of those who allow it. That they too are a part of this vicious cycle of approval seeking. That ‘self-belief’ is alien to them.
Nowadays, I merely watch over them and restrain from criticizing. If I did, then I haven’t learned that they too have an opinion and it is just theirs. It has nothing to do with what I think of it. Nor is there a need to apply it.
This thought has liberated me tremendously. In fact, I feel more responsible. A responsibility to care for myself and my thoughts. It does not matter anymore what you think of me. All that matters now is what I think of myself.
Pic credit: Kliefi (Used under a CC license)
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