Monday, July 2, 2012
Celebrating Your Independence
In 2009, I spent six weeks visiting my Mr. Wonderful in Europe while he was working on a project outside of London. Despite the fact that we were in a relationship, the trip was a big test of my independence. While Mr. W was at work during the day, I was left to my own devices and had to quickly get used to being my own best company.
Prior to meeting Mr. W, I had gotten pretty darn good at flying solo—hiking, running, seeing movies and even buying my car with no supporter at my side. Even when I did stuff with girlfriends (like climbing Half Dome) the experiences carried a sense of self accomplishment different from what they would have if they'd taken place with a lover or spouse.
Back then, the things I did on my own enriched my character in a way that not only made me feel good about who I was but also seemed to make me more desirable to the male faction.
Be and do what you want to attract, right? A strong woman who is faithful to her sense of self will attract a strong man who is equally faithful.
But what I realized when I got deeper into dating Mr. W (and see again now as his wife) is that maintaining independent strength is always good practice. If you don't flex those muscles every now and then, they will start to atrophy.
A married friend of mine and I recently compared notes and decided that we had some natural tendencies to defer to our men when it came to certain things. Being the passenger in the car more often than not was one of our examples, and when I thought about it, the single girl inside me flew into a slight panic. I don't want to become dependent on another person! Even if it's just in the car!
The truth is, however, that independence is often just a state of mind.
I can rely on other people and still hang on to my autonomy. It all boils down to the way I frame the story in my mind.
I don't regret that my shaky story on self-sufficiency prompted me to dine alone at a swanky Argentinian restaurant on the Thames during that 2009 trip. Even though my arms were covered in goosebumps from the river breeze, and my nose was buried in a book throughout most of my lunch, I rather enjoyed myself.
And maybe it's these instances that fuel my ability to tell myself different stories now. Even when my Mr. W is at the wheel.
Maybe our independence is a constant cycle of experiences informing self assessment informing experiences.
Kinda makes me want to take myself out to a nice solo dinner.