Independence Isn’t Cool

Not sure if you know, but I’m actually really cool. I moved abroad and I barely even call home because I don’t need family anymore. So independent, so cool.

Yeah, and I often just block God out and say ‘I’ve got this’, because I’m that capable and awesome. I can make it on my own.

If you didn’t already know how hip and cool I am, that’s because I’m not at all.

I’ve just created the belief in my head that doing life on my own makes me awesome, which is entirely untrue. All that my independence does is show me up for my fear of vulnerability and my arrogance, which is so not cool.

Strength is important to have so that we can dodge the curve balls that life throws at us. However strength and independence are not the same, and independence is not the goal. Independence from people is lonely. Independence from God? That’s a sin.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Yes, I can stand on my own two feet. I am capable of looking after myself and had to learn pretty fast, which is great and something I am proud of. But I am never enough. I still need God, need my family, and need my friends. That is not a sign of weakness or a bad thing in the slightest, which I am only just beginning to accept.

Vulnerability is strength unarmed.

I started to think about all this recently when I was really ill. I had a nasty virus and was bed ridden for the best part of 7 days. It was horrible and it was the loneliest I had felt in a long time. I could have reached out to my friends and my housemates for help. I didn’t because I didn’t want to bother anyone or look completely pathetic.

If I didn’t try to do it on my own, that week wouldn’t have been so dark for me. I would have had food in the house and regained strength, but instead I didn’t eat for over a day and got worse. Pa-the-tic.

I’m probably more vulnerable with my counselor than anyone. When I saw him and we talked about my week, it came out: I desperately needed love and attention but I was too scared to ask for it. The independence was a facade to hide that.

I’m learning that fierce independence is more pathetic than vulnerability. It’s a guard so that people can’t see what’s really going on. It’s isolating and dangerous.

The main point is that we all need support, and though we all need a level of independence as adults, taking it too far isn’t cool.

So I quit, because to be vulnerable is to truly be strong.

Can you relate? Are you independent, or do you struggle to be independent? Leave a comment. 

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For The Strong Ones

We all know at least one of them. Those strong and resilient overcomers who we respect and admire, the ones that just cope so well and seem to have it all together. We could never do what they do, they’re so much stronger than us.

That single mum who is juggling work, kids and the lonely hours between sunset and sunrise. The student who works extra hours whenever they can to pay the rent, and volunteers for church, and is available for their friends whenever they call. That girl who just found out her Dad has a terminal illness and might not make it to Christmas. The guy who recently had his heart broken and is still figuring out how to piece it together.

We know their story, but because they aren’t shouting it from the rooftops, we don’t say anything. We assume that they’re coping.

We commend how brave, wise and Godly they are, and we don’t worry about them because they’re so capable. Plus they probably have enough people to look after them. We pray for them and hope for the best. It’s a little awkward to call or text and say ‘I was just thinking about you, and I’m here if you need anything’. So we don’t, because they might think we are being nosey or intrusive.

What do you say to those people who are hurting, anyway? We think to ourselves ‘I hope they are okay’, ‘they are amazing’ and ‘I wish there was something I could do’. We think that because we can’t fix their situation that we are useless, so we don’t do anything.

Except…

We’re all strong as and when we have to be, because we don’t have any other choice. That person you know, the one who you don’t have to worry about – they’re actually just like you. They only difference is that they’ve had to stretch themselves to survive the crappy season life has thrown at them, and yes they are staying afloat, because they have to.

I live in London, one of the busiest and loneliest cities in the world. I’ve experienced the type of loneliness that makes you ache from the inside out. However, I also haven’t called that person that I’ve been thinking about because “it’s not my place”. They will never know that I was thinking about them because I haven’t told them, and they will feel alone.

Those robust, capable people have days where they don’t want to get out of bed too, you know. They’re not always strong and they could be crumbling right now. So call them, reach out. Yes, there is a line and you don’t want to cross it. But sometimes I think we are so scared of crossing the line that we miss the opportunity to show love and be a blessing.

They look strong, but underneath it all they feel weak. They need you.

I don’t mind if you know my business because you probably heard it through the grapevine. I do mind if you know what I’m going through, you assume I’m okay because I’m ‘a tough one’, and you don’t let me know you care.

This post isn’t for me or about me, it’s about you or the friend that needs you.

Because even the strong people need to know you see them.

Have you ever been one either side of this fence? Do you wish you had called?