Is Independence Overrated?

Is Independence Overrated

We live in the most independent age of the single most independent nation. We ourselves fully believe that we can do anything. That we can each follow our dreams to wherever we want to go, depending solely on me, myself, and I to get there. And I love this mindset! But sometimes life puts things a bit more clearly into perspective.

Everything we do is a choice. We’re in control, and with enough right choices (so the theory goes), any of us can go wherever we want to go. That’s beautiful, isn’t it? An entire people group full of faith in themselves. Admirable! To tell you the truth, that’s why I’m so thankful to be living when and where I am. Opportunity is everywhere. It’s up to the individual to capture it. But there’s a twist.

In order for any one of us to achieve our goals and dreams, we need a team of supporters. The artist needs agents and few key people who believe in their work. The academic needs professors who care about their performance. The entrepreneur needs mentors to guide them in the right direction. I’ve been shockingly reminded how dependent I, as the opportunistic American Millennial, am on others to do anything or go anywhere.

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I screwed up my knee again (good job, Kenneth). My wife has, of her own accord, been waiting on me hand and foot. And I’m so grateful, because I can’t even carry a glass of water or a sandwich trying to operate these crutches (which she picked up from the pharmacy for me). A situation like this makes you feel helpless at first. But then it opens your eyes to how helpful others are in making it through any given day.

In past jobs, I relied on referrals. To get those jobs, I asked for help. To do well in school, I’d go to my professors for advice. To improve my writing, I directly ask others for feedback. To get from the bed to the couch, my wife has to help me.

Everything I’ve done so far has been thanks to my parents, wife, professors, friends, and so many more people who’ve showed up when I needed. At varying degrees, I’ve depended on others every step of the way. As I grow, I have a feeling that dependence will only increase.

Sure, it’s great to do something well and say “I did that.” That goes for all of us, and it’s true. We have done those things. We made enough of the right choices and made it somewhere. But that’s not the full story.

Is independence overrated? No. I don’t think so. I think a strong sense of independence is what gives most of us the confidence to take on new things, to better ourselves and the world. But that’s not the whole picture. No matter how independent we feel, the truth is that we’re each very dependent on others.


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