We fight for our right to do it on our own, but is it always a good thing? Here are 6 pros and cons of being independent.
One of the great rites of passage that isn’t always as defined as a rite is the acquisition of our independence. You’re all grown up now, you can be taken seriously. We view the status of being independent as having “made it”, as something to aspire to be.
I think part of the reason we see it that way is because the option of being co-dependent doesn’t seem to be a healthy thing in our mind. We don’t want to have to rely on anyone else for anything – to have need on anyone else for anything is seen to be a great weakness.
But is being independent as good as it’s cracked out to be?
As always, I’d like to consider this issue from both sides and have a look at the merits on both sides of the argument. Here are 6 pros and cons of being independent.
Pro #1: It usually means you can take of yourself
I think it’s great that we learn to stand on our own two feet. When you’re a child, that’s what you start out literally doing – trying to get your footing. As you get older, you’re trying to find your footing in other areas, like friendships, education, dressing yourself. As we progress, we should be able to take care of the things that others used to do for us – paying your own bills, fending for yourself, making your own decisions.
Usually when we talk about our independence, we usually are referring to how good it is we’re able to take care of our own needs.
And it’s even more than that. For some of us, independence means being able to make our own significant financial moves, such as buying your own car or your own house without the assistance of others. Independence means being strong enough in our own career and purpose that we know we’ll always somewhat be well equipped for the challenges of life.
It’s definitely a good thing to be able to take care of yourself.
Con #1: You’re probably not good at asking for help
The interesting thing about independence or an attitude of independence is that it’s usually born out of necessity. In many cases, there are areas of your life where no one else has been there to look after you. Maybe you had to learn to cook at a younger age because someone else wasn’t able to do it for you. Maybe you’ve had to be stronger in your career cause money hasn’t always been there for you. Maybe you’ve had to be the emotionally strong one because there hasn’t been anyone else to do it for you.
As a result, when we have an attitude of independence, it usually means we’re not good as asking for help when we need it.
Why? Because in all our previous experience, we’ve just risen above it and learned to make do. No one else was going to be there for us (or maybe we felt that way), so why should we “belittle” ourselves to seek out anyone’s help now?
Maybe we don’t even think anyone would ever be there for us, and we can have a bitterness or anger towards needing the help of others.
The truth is though that often we do need others to help us out. There are some challenges that are too big for just us. But because of our “independence”, AKA a spirit of pride in this case, we refuse to let anyone help us.
That’s definitely not a good thing.
Pro #2: You have an attitude that won’t keep you down for long
What I like about this attitude is that you take responsibility for your own wellbeing. More than just the physical things, you’re usually pretty dedicated towards working through things and not letting things keep you down.
It’s a sense of ownership over your own life, and it’s great when people are taking responsibility for how they’re feeling and really owning their own decisions.
Con #2: You probably aren’t aware of or accommodating of your weaknesses
Another one that kind of plays on our pride a bit. I’ve worked on a number of software development projects in a number of different organizations – state and federal government agencies, larger companies, and even those smaller projects on the side. And something I see a lot of is that when you’ve been used to doing things by yourself for a while, you start to develop your own habits and mechanisms for getting things done.
And sometimes these can be great. However, usually if no one else has been interacting with you or looking at your work, you may be completely ambivalent to the things you’re not doing right. And when you’re suddenly placed in a larger team where you have to play nice with everyone else, your weaknesses become immediately apparent, as does your reluctance to change.
It’s exactly the same with the other areas of our lives. If we’re so used to doing things our own way, we’re probably not aware that sometimes our own way isn’t actually the right way. You have a certain approach to your finances, but you’re actually not aware of how bad you are at saving. You have an attitude towards the friends you make, but you haven’t invited in any other voices to give you the real truth about how you treat other people.
When you’re used to playing for one, it didn’t matter as much, but if you want to grow and learn to be a team player in any area of life, you’re going to need to invite the right feedback in to your life and not be so set on your way of doing life.
Pro #3: You’re able to look out for others too
Something that’s good about having the right balance of independence is that if you’re on top of your own issues, you’re more free to look after others.
If our independence is complete isolation, then we probably won’t get this far cause we’ll be too obsessed with our own needs and priorities. But if we use independence in the right way, we can ensure our lives are being taken care of, and also extend to help others.
How good is it when people are so free in their own life that they don’t just have enough for them – whether it be finances, emotions, time, or otherwise – but they have enough to give to others? I love it.
Con #3: Your reach and influence are severely limited
The problem with doing everything yourself is that you only have the resources and investment of one person to accomplish things. I mean sure, it’s great you have enough for you and perhaps enough for others, but if you’re only ever living it out in an independent fashion, your reach will only be as far as your own reach can go.
But we are better together.
People say that if you want something done right, do it yourself.
I actually think the more powerful way to live is that if you want something done right, don’t do it by yourself.
Involve others. If it’s all about you, you are the ceiling on the organization or on the investment. If it’s just you, then what happens when you’re not able to be there? If it’s just your independent self, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to be able to generate enough to really make a lasting difference.
There is such great power in partnership. So often we view it as tying ourselves down, letting ourselves become “co-dependent”, or that other people are getting in our way. Maybe that just shows us a real flaw in our attitude in that we don’t actually know how to do things with others.
When you’ve been independent so long, it can be hard to change your mindset to incorporate others. But if we really want to be world changers, we’re not going to be able to do it alone. We weren’t made to do it alone. Our destiny involves people, it doesn’t shut them out.
And sure, there may be times where we are sent on by ourselves to face some things alone to build our character. But we need to remember that we’re not made to do our whole life alone, and that our greatest strength lies in partnering with others and doing it as a team.
Over to you – what are your views on independence? Do you agree or disagree with any of the comments above? Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing?