During my (short) life I’ve found many things I believe in, but I have to say the one thing I believe in more than anything is independence. I’ve realized the importance of independence with observation.
I saw my uncle run his life into the ground. He lived with his parents until they died. He never learned how to take care of himself so when the time came for him to live on his own he didn’t know how. He ended up depending on drugs and alcohol to keep him going. He died at the age of 49 without ever really growing up. He was a very talented person but his talents were wasted because he was dependent on people and substances.
When I say independence I don’t just mean living on your own. I mean relying on no one but yourself too keep you happy, I have a friend who’s always depended on others to keep her emotionally stable. Sometimes it’s OK to lean on your friends but there’s a limit. When she would do something, like get a good grade for example, she’d be happy but it wasn’t enough for her to know she did well. She needed someone to pat her on the back; can’t you just be proud of yourself? When she felt even the slightest bit down she had to have someone tell her everything’s alright. Then she got a boyfriend. She had to see him all the time or she was miserable. She needed him just to be happy. It didn’t work out with him but now she has a new boyfriend and I can see the pattern repeating. She only causes herself pain when she does things like that.
There’s also independent thinking, when people don’t think for themselves they end up following others. A lot of the time the people they follow aren’t right. And if you don’t try to think for yourself you’ll never find what you believe in. When I was younger I went along with my mother’s religion thoughtlessly. As I got older I realized I didn’t actually agree with it. I feel much better now that I now who I am and what I really believe in; I’m not lost anymore. Where as before I was OK but I didn’t really know what I thought. If I continued mindlessly, I never would’ve known.
Life is sometimes harder when you’re independent but it’s better to know you’re self-sufficient. Then you know your happiness and stability comes from (or at least is maintained by) yourself and not from a drug or person. It cannot be taken away from you so easily.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.