I open my own doors. Carry my own bags. And pay for my own Uber. But, am I too independent?
Written by: Ayesha Go | Photos by: Colin Pieters
Modern-day women have become an enigma. A noticeable force to be reckoned with, with a mist of mystique hugging her silhouette like the perfect Herve Leger dress. She can do the unthinkable, with the unnoticeable, and create a phenomena that many revel in. How does she do it? School. Work. Family. Disadvantages. Setbacks. Fallbacks. Obstacles. Misogyny. Sexism. Nurturer. Provider. Shelter. Shield. You name it, she does it to the highest degree.
As a woman, you’re forced to deal with the harsh realities of the world head on. Face-to-face. No sugar coating. No gradually easing in. No Vaseline (sorry, if you’re not a Hip Hop head you won’t understand that reference). Whether by force or by choice, you grow and your growth is beyond measure.
Dealing with the harsh realities of the world, women are forced to adapt making survival of the fittest second nature even when living in a world that isn’t always in your favor. In this survival-of-the-fittest mentality, women learn to do everything. Bring home the bacon, cook it for the man while simultaneously making a healthier-dinner option for herself because she realizes her body is her temple.
Women in this contemporary age have adapted so well that the survival-of-the-fittest mentality has become the bare minimum needed to thrive in a world where the role of man is ever changing and often ambiguous—Does he work? Are specific fields more ‘macho’ and manly? Does he have to make more? Do men still date and court?—the role of woman is left to either sit back and wait for the role of man to be more defined or go out and re-define the role of woman. I choose the latter.
I chose to re-define my role as woman because, well, why not. The idea of damsel in distress is a thing of the past and women are capable and able to do anything. Defy odds. Shatter glass ceilings. Break records and set new ones. There’s even been new development of a female shark that had a baby by herself (Yass, sis!). There’s so much opportunity for growth and development, that using gender or sexual identifiers as a reason to stay within the confines of the role of woman seems more detrimental than beneficial.
While were taught about being independent and celebrate it, we haven’t been taught what it means to share independence and dependence when the time is right.
Growing up with the standard term of “daddy issues” and the only child of a single-parent, I was forced to be my own defender and protector when mama was away from her cub. Fiesty. Angry. Outspoken. Often referred to as obnoxious and arrogant (I still remember the teacher that said that to me and she has no idea how much I appreciate her). Cub was forced to be self-sufficient and practice survival of the fittest early. Because of this, I’ve always been my own person. Working hard for everything I have. Going to college with no help (I’m still paying for it by the way, but what a reward). Even seeking further professional development and investing in myself. For me, by me, and for that I'm extremely grateful and appreciative.
Since I’ve become accustomed to doing things for myself, I’ve developed an I-can-do-it-myself mentality, that has cause me to become closed off. Anytime a man tries to open the door for me, I find myself grabbing the other door because I think “I can do it myself.” If a man sees me struggling with grocery bags, because I NEVER make two trips and I’d rather struggle trying to juggle multiple bags in only two hands, comes to me and offers help I always respond saying “I can do it.” My I-can-do-it-myself mentality became so strong when it came to food excursions or hanging out with a guy, come the check or time for me to request an Uber, of course you guessed it “I can do it.”
While I appreciate my independence, I started to question if, at times, it's too much. Am I too independent?
Have I become too independent that when a confident, secure man who knowns his role of man approaches me I diminish him by always saying “ I can do it?”
Has my veteran status of independence, self-made boss become so strong that I hinder other people’s independence because before a statement or gesture can be finished my notorious four-letter phrase is already rolling off the tip of my tongue?
As I've gotten older and have become more aware of my spirituality and observant of people around me, I started to think about this topic more. Question after question, thought after thought, I wasn't closer to my answer and found myself really questioning my behavior.
'Are you blocking good, positive energy that you’re putting out into the universe because you want to handle and do everything yourself? Are you not letting the universe treat you by having your positive energy come full circle? Are you blocking people from doing nice things for you and, in actually, adding more stress, discomfort and hardship to your life by not being open and breaking down those walls?
When taught to be independent, we’re never taught the other side of independence: the side that effects others around us. When it comes to any situation that’s keeping us out of harms way, then of course independence is celebratory and valid. But what about the instances preventing us from our potential and growth? By no means is this a PSA for us to become more docile, subservient, or water down are magic to make men feel more secure about themselves or live in their shadows. This is more of a question of whether or not we’re able to reach our full potential when we’re actually in our own way.
Does having a man open the door for me take away my independence? No, and it doesn’t mean I’m one date away from being barefoot and pregnant. Does it mean in that particular exchange and experience I’m letting my walls down so we can both be active participants of the moment, which can have a positive impact what’s to follow? Yes.
Does this mean you shouldn't accept a better job because you don’t want to outshine your partner or make them feel lesser of a person? No. But it does mean you two having open, honest conversations are important. Communicating is essential as it can inspire and motivate your partner to do what their passionate about because being partners means being equally invested: no one person is greater than the other.
As I’m becoming more focused on my aspirations in life, creating the business I’ve always wanted to, and becoming more spiritually aligned with myself and the universe, I’m learning that the synonym for independence isn’t weak or vulnerable. Rather it’s equally yoked and invested with a person worthy of the role.