The first time I heard about independence was probably when my older brother was graduating high school. Of course I’ve heard the word before, of course I knew what it meant- I was already in ninth grade by that time. But never did I feel its impact, nor understand that with it comes so much weight. In fact, I don’t think I really understood its meaning until I had graduated high school three years later.
Until then, independence meant being allowed to walk to the pizza store without my parents for the first time in the fifth grade. It meant receiving my five dollars of allowance each week and being able to decide how I wanted to spend it. Independence meant acquiring my own taste in music, and telling my family that I believed in different things than they did.
And then I graduated High School.
After high school, for the first time I learned that independence meant something a little more. The wait in the airport was the hardest, though sitting on the airplane right before takeoff was probably when it hit me first. After living for eighteen years in the same community, always under my parents loving roof, I was off to an entirely new country, thousands of miles away from my family to study for a year. Suddenly independence carried with it a sense of responsibility, and also a sense of loss. I now had more freedom than I had ever had before, but for the first time in my eighteen years of living, my parents would not be at my side at all times. For the first time, I was to live a year, to grow a year, not with, nor against my family. It was incredibly invigorating, and at the same time incredibly frightening.
The Golden Coin
People, countries, nations, seem to be declaring their independence constantly. It’s like this golden coin that everyone seems to be after. History class in middle school, high school, was always infused with dates, years, stories, of courageous and bloody independences. The year seems to be built around celebrations of independence. The streets of America are erupting in red white and blue for the entire month of June simply in anticipation of the Fourth of July. The Declaration of Independence is hung up in almost every day school across America. In ninth grade, the students in my class were challenged to memorize the entire declaration for extra credit. It’s no wonder that every teenager is after Independence. It seems to be the goal for the entire world.
But sitting on that plane ready for takeoff, about to fly away to a country I barely knew, no longer able to beg my parents to let me walk to the pizza story, ask them for more allowance, blast my music in my room, or search for new beliefs to define me, I questioned for the first time how great independence really is.
A Love-Hate Relationship
We seem to have a love-hate relationship, independence and I. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate it for what it’s worth. The freedom to make my own decisions, but more importantly, to make my own mistakes. After a year of studying abroad after high school, perhaps hungry for more independence, perhaps on a surge of inspiration, I made that new country my home. Visiting my family only a few times a year, I did feel a sense of newly acquired independence. Creating a life for myself my parents would have never imagined, I built my new world with my own two hands and my idealistic dreams.
And of course the hate between us began to grow as well. I longed for – as I am sure we all do at times- those long summer days when I would run into my mother’s open arms. I longed for my father’s home cooked dinners and fighting over the T.V. with my siblings. I miss, I guess, begging my parents for independence, and still believing that it meant being allowed to walk to the pizza store down the street without my mom. (Pizza never did taste as good as that first time in the fifth grade, by the way.)
And so we fight often. I try to take from independence too much freedom, and independence throws on me too many burdens. I beg it for less responsibility, it begs me to stop taking advantage of it. I guess it will always be like this- a give and take- give too much, take too little, give too little, take too much. It seems to be like that with every relationship, doesn’t it?
At the end of the day, though, we seem to make a good team, independence.
Revital Beltz is a proud mother of 5 children and works as a copy-writer. Besides writing her personal stories, she deals with independence and freedom of choice from a very unique point-of-view. For further reading you can visit her posts on site.