As I reflect on what I am thankful for this year, I really am thankful for the gifts from others that have helped me to be successful in all my endeavors. So I thought I’d write a little mini-series sharing some insight into these gifts over the Thanksgiving weekend. Yesterday I wrote about Confidence, today I am thankful for Independence.
Confidence in myself also expresses itself in not having to be one-of-the-crowd. However, I see this as a different gift, the gift of Independence. Independence has been both a blessing and a challenge. Growing up, it was really a challenge. So much of our childhood is based on associating with a group, from whom we usually also gain part of our identity. Whether it was the jocks, nerds, band geeks, or even the people that hung around the building A stairwell at recess–that was our clique and we identified ourselves and others by the clique to which they belonged.
For me it was different, I definitely hung around primarily with one clique, but my activities and social relationships were so varied that I often found myself in the midst of other cliques. This put me in an odd limbo; while I was accepted by all the cliques, I was not actually a part of their core membership (not even own primary clique). So while I wasn’t necessarily excluded, I wasn’t necessarily included either. This may sound like a very scary situation, especially for a teenager, but thanks to the gift of Independence, while I may have WANTED to be part of the group, I didn’t HAVE to part of the group. So I could forge my own path and my own identity, without feeling the need to conform (well not completely anyway).
Even today, this juxtaposition continues. There are many social circles both personal and professional that I am a part of, but I am often on the periphery and not part of the core. However, I know that many of the people in these circles make an effort to help me feel like I belong. And I am VERY grateful for the little things that they do to include me, while also respecting my Independence and decisions sometimes to not participate.
I still wrestle sometimes with the need to belong and to be part of a group. But I recognize that if I keep my Independence in check and don’t let it turn into a destructive or isolationist force, then it really does help contribute to my success.
So thank you to my family and friends, who gave me the Confidence to be Independent. And also to all of the others around me now, who respect my Independence, yet do the little things to help me feel included in your circle (you know who you are!).