Independence – Find Your Own Way

As you may, or may not, know, I’ve been writing a series of blog posts on five words I’ve identified as sort of sign posts for my life. These words are not goals in and of themselves. Instead they are the building blocks of the house I want to live in.

Hmmm… Maybe the analogy would work better if I starting talking about building a ship instead of a house.  After all, once a ship is finished, it can be pointed in any direction, set sail to any horizon.

But I don’t know how ships are built, so I’m going to stick with houses.

The five words I’m working with are: Energy, Strength, Independence, Simplicity, and Creativity.  I feel like these words should be considered in this particular order because each one builds on the other. But I do have to say that in this past week, Creativity has gotten crafty (hah!) and switched places, so now it’s at the end (there’s a reason for this, which I’ll get to in a future blog post. Anticipation!)

Regardless, it doesn’t matter for this week anyway because today we are going to be talking about independence.

If energy is the foundation, and strength is the floor, I consider independence to be the framework of the house we are building. That’s because if you, like me, want to live life creatively and well, if you want to live life true to yourself, and do not want to necessarily conform to all the accepted norms society lays down for us, then the bones of your house must come from independence.  A strong sense of independence is the studs and siding and insulation and structure of your building. Or ship. Or whatever.

What is independence? I think, in a lot of ways, it’s simply being stubborn.  Not arrogant. Still accepting the fact that you need to learn from other people. Still loving other people. Still working with your partner and/or the other people in your life, cooperating with them to get things done. But holding on to the person you are, no matter what you’re being told.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of people in this world who want to tell you what to do. Entire industries have grown up around trying to convince you who you should be. Heck, our whole culture seems to be built on that idea these days. Look at Facebook and Twitter. Look at television and commercials. There are just so many people who want to tell you how to live.

But just because they say it doesn’t make it true for you. And sometimes you have to be stubborn, and the framework of your house has to be strong, and you have to find a different way, especially when your path is not something that’s easily understood.

What makes independence tricky, of course, is that at the beginning, whatever your beginning may be, you might need the advice. You might need people to tell you what to do. You might need them to lead the way. You might need to follow them. You have to listen and you have to learn because you probably don’t know enough right out of the gate.

But at some point, you do learn, and you do know enough. That’s when you have to make sure that you are truly living out of your own center, and not just following someone for the sake of following them or because it’s easier or because you think it’s what you should be doing.

For example, in the independent author community, there are tons of people who are more than happy to tell you what you should do to be successful.  Most of these people are wonderful and well-meaning. A lot of their advice can be incredibly valuable, especially when you’re just starting out.

But sooner or later you–and I’m talking to myself here–have to decide whether or not the path they’re laying down is the right one for you.  Maybe it is, but maybe it’s not. Things that they’re telling you may have worked for them, but they may not be what you need to do.  It might be that you need to veer off and go your own way alone instead.

It might be scary to be alone.

That’s when you have to lean on independence and be stubborn and be strong and have energy. That’s when you have to remember that just because something has worked for a hundred people doesn’t mean it’s what you should do.

Yes, you might find out you’re wrong. Yes, you might fail. But that’s okay, too. Because you will have failed sailing full steam ahead under your own power.

So, I don’t know. But it seems like ultimately the only thing that will work for you–or, should I say, me–as a creative person is living your own life, following your own path, thinking your own thoughts, loving your own loves, being yourself, and evaluating what you come across through your own independent, stubborn, framework.

Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson





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