“Independent so-and-so.” I’ve always thought of myself that way. I left home at 16 or 17 because I was ready to be my own woman. Don’t laugh.
The want to stand on my own two feet is strong and it’s always been there as far back as I can remember. Not only was I determined to look after myself from a young age, I was determined to be my own person. In reality, I didn’t have a clue who I was at that tender age but whoever I was, I was me. There was no way I was going to simply ‘conform’ to anything. Aren’t teenagers cute? I haven’t changed much either. I’m still the same independent so-and-so.
Being independent was actually a lot of work. The problem was that I dropped out of college after my first year and I wasn’t really qualified to do much. On my Dad’s advice, I took a Junior Secretarial position which included a one day a week course in Secretarial and Office skills. Back then, career choice wasn’t important to me nor did I have a dream of becoming something in particular. What was burningly important to me was that I earn enough money to gain my independence. I decided to get my head down and work hard at whatever I was doing, the key to me was to gain experience and get good so I’d earn a decent enough salary to totally support myself. I don’t remember lacking in the confidence to do so and I don’t remember ever asking my parents to help me out in those years, although there were certainly times when I should have done. In fact, I deliberately stayed away from home and my parents, so keen was I to be ‘un-helped’ in any way. Asking anyone for help would have felt like a failure, I had to feel fully independent.
I started out renting a room, moved in to house shares in my late teens and then my first teeny tiny flat (apartment) all by myself at the age of 24. That was a moment, moving into that flat. I felt like I’d really made it, I was a young independent woman in control of her own life and I remained focused on my career, having not realized yet that office work was not really all I could be doing. Every time I jumped ship at work to climb the career ladder, I moved town too.
Time for a Change
Jump forward, aged 33 or 34. I’m now living in a bigger, nicer flat and earning a very good salary as an Office Manager…but I’m bored. I’ve been at the top of the office ladder for six years now and I’ve ‘cracked it’. I can do that. Next? When I realized I was spending far too much of my office day on Facebook, gazing out the window wishing I was out there doing something else, I decided it was time for a change.
I also realized that in focusing on myself and being independent all those years, I had neglected others. I was single, with no intentions of letting any guy slow me up on my path, and I had lost contact with a lot of my family. It was like that scene in Finding Nemo when Dory, the fish with bugger-all memory, ponders on the whereabouts of her family who she forgot about somewhere along the way. “Where are those guys?”
I did have some great pals, albeit scattered about the country due to my constant moving. On that salary, I had some good times and good holidays, but I was lonely and unsettled. I wanted to be close to my family, fall in love.
I strived to reconnect with everyone important in my life, rebuild bridges and have deep and meaningful chats with all my family. I think at the time I actually freaked them out a bit!
I gave up my job, moved to the town my parents, younger sisters and brother lived near and started temping. I wanted the freedom of a temporary job to look into starting my own business. I was toying with idea of moving abroad too, Ibiza of all places. *sigh* Ibiza, still holds a special place!
I decided to get proactive about finding me a man, after exhausting the local Friday night crowd in town and a few failed attempts with the local newspapers Lonely Hearts, I joined a good dating site enjoyed being myself- honest and upfront. I said I was a feisty independent woman looking for a committed and loving relationship. I was keen to settle and have kids one day, and talked about possibly living abroad! I met my South African hubby and next thing I know (like, literally, just over a year later) we’re on a plane to Johannesburg with our 5-month-old to start a new life. Emotionally much closer to my family, I was now leaving them all to fly to the other side of the world with a guy they hardly knew and our new baby.
Four years later with a second child, my hubby and I are running a business together. It’s small, but going well and we’re BOTH independent so-and-so’s. The sparks fly at time, and we’ve both had to learn to have a partner. Be a family, side by side against the rest of the world, not trying to do everything alone. My parents fly over for holidays whenever they can and they’ve invested in us more than once, and that’s pretty darned fantastic.
The biggest thing I learned when out there on my own all those years is that being independent doesn’t have to mean you need to do everything alone. Everybody needs support at times, and I wouldn’t be as independent as I am today if my parents, hubby, friends and rest of my family hadn’t helped me get there. In one way or another, they are the ones who taught me to be this way.
Having someone behind you or on your side gives you much more strength to go out there and take on whatever you want or need to. I can climb the highest mountain to take on the entire world if I know the people who love me are cheering me out the door and will welcome me back when I’m done being a youknowwhat.
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