“Miss Independent…..oooo she fell in love” so the song goes. Yes yes, the song is all about a girl who is surprised by “this feeling taking over” not suggesting she became less independent when she fell in love. While a very catchy tune (and a GREAT one to sing and dance to when inebriated, trust me!), I take issue with any suggestion that women (or men) should suddenly lose their independence when “falling in love” or “entering a Very Serious relationship” or “obtaining a pet and then becoming co-dependent with your cat”.
I have always been a very independent woman. I was taught (indoctrinated, thanks Mum) that I should never have to rely on a man for anything, that I was capable of doing it all myself. As a teenager, I had law in my sights, and babies and marriage were something that “might come along and might not” but my focus was to become a taller (fatter) and better shod Australian version of Ally McBeal.
High school boyfriend didn’t impact said goals. He was my first love, and I did love him very much. I do recall, in a fit of teenage fury at my mother, telling her that I was going to marry him, even though he was probably going to stay in my home town and work picking bananas for a living and I was moving to Brisbane for uni. I laugh as I write this. Teenage hormones and all of that. Yes, Mum, if you’re reading, bet you’re giggling too.
I also can’t recall EVER as a child or teenager, dreaming of a big, white wedding with Prince Charming. When I hear women say “Oh I always wanted this at my wedding when I dreamed of it as a little girl“, or “Oh I want to have 4 children, I’ve always dreamed about having 4“, I think “shit, is there something wrong with me that I’ve never thought about any of that stuff?” Wedding dress? Nope. How many children? Pfft. Type of engagement ring? Yeah, I don’t even know the difference between a carat and carrot!
I distinctly recall when I was a child (tween they are called these days) thinking about things like “University libraries“, “Wearing excellent suits” or “Convicting lots of criminals“. No “Prince Charming on a white horse” thoughts around here – this girl doesn’t NEED RESCUING. I CLIMB DOWN THE FUCKING TOWER MYSELF, THANKS.
During my last 6 months of uni, I met Mr W. It was an exciting time. This new relationship, venturing forth into the world of full time work after graduation, wearing those really impressive suits I was dreaming about and convicting lots of criminals. Except that last part didn’t happen. I thought I would be a criminal lawyer. I made it to one child abuse trial and that was it for me. So a lot happened during the early stages of our relationship for us individually.
About 18 months after I finished uni (about 6 months after I got admitted as a solicitor), I was miserable. I hated my work. I was under pressure. The people I worked with were not very nice. I wasn’t getting paid what I thought was fair. Friends from uni were dropping like flies from the profession. Heck, friends from uni were dropping like flies from our friendship groups with the passage of time and the less and less effort we were all putting in. I had a falling out with a good friend.
As the friendship group narrowed, Mr W and I moved in together. I was close to being depressed over my job. It was hard, living with another lawyer who was flourishing and loving every minute of it, and I hated it.
I questioned for a LONG TIME how the hell I ended up a lawyer and what was I even doing here? I researched alternative professions, and I felt completely lost. This GOAL I had worked towards for my ENTIRE teenager and early adult years was NOT RIGHT FOR ME. Oh my god! All I wanted to do now was get married to Mr W and have children, and stop working to raise the children. Who WAS this person? Where did Miss Independent go?
I looked left and right for friends and was coming up with my best friend, R, and that was about it. But that was ok, I reasoned, because all I needed was her and Mr W! Following this, my work got even worse and then soon after, R announced she was moving to England for two years. Without even realising it, I began to lose myself. I picked myself up and changed jobs around the same time she left for England. It was a great relief, career wise and the right move. But the huge spot I expected R to fill, was empty.
So the story goes, without realising it, I hardly saw friends. I didn’t have that many left. I became (unknowingly) reliant on Mr W. I wanted to just get married already because I was so focused on our relationship without other things to focus on.
Then, it all came to a head. The epic almost-break-up moment with Mr W, when I realised how much of myself I had truly lost. Not because of him, but because of a combination of factors that led to my over-reliance on him. My teenager self would have looked at me in disgust for losing my independence.
Things started to happen for me. I got a great opportunity at work. The friend I had fallen out with, stumbled back into my life, wine glass (ok, bottle) and hilarious gossip alongside. I joined a book club. Made new friends (on the internet, they are still real friends, you know. Tamsin & I even talk on the phone, so I know she exists!). Started paying a lot of attention to my new hobby – writing.
Miss Independent is back. Phew. She even reared her confrontational head the other night when discussing with Mr W the topic of “changing surnames” when getting married. Mr W: “I want to have the same name as my wife, I like my surname“, me: “Well, I like my surname too, so why is the presumption that *I* change my surname, why don’t you change yours“. What happened next? Well, that’s another post! Miss Independent, yes indeed.
Have you ever lost your way? Felt a need to re-adjust your goals? Lost your independence? Gained independence?
Whippersnapper has written 37 posts.