The Good and Bad of Being Independent
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | July 10, 2016
As the oldest of six kids, independence comes naturally to me. While I value community and friendship, I like to step out on my own to accomplish the plan for my life. Perhaps you can identify with this sentiment.
But independence—though valuable—isn’t always beneficial. Like all things in life, there are pros and cons to being an independent woman. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our personal nature helps us navigate life with wisdom, and understanding independence in the context of God’s design checks our hearts against His intentions.
The apostle Peter wrote: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16) The world praises independence. Our culture continually lifts it up as the prototype for womanhood. But even the most independent woman is dependent upon something or someone for her value! Peter is saying that we are indeed free—independent, able to do what we want—but that our independence shouldn’t be used for selfish purposes. We are independent as individuals, but we are not independent from God and His standards.
This in mind, here are some pros and cons—the good and bad aspects—of being an independent woman.
Good: You don’t need outside motivation—you can motivate yourself.
Independent women are very self-motivated. They know what they want to accomplish and create strategies to get there. Many women who are independent are also described as “Type A” personalities. They crave organization, structure and a plan for the future. This inner motivation is extremely helpful for school and work, where performance expectations are high.
Bad: You get frustrated when other people don’t share your motivation.
Independent women have high expectations for themselves. The downside to this self-motivation lies in their relationships with others: They hold those same expectations for other people! Not all people are Type A, and some prefer to go through life with a less individualistic mindset. This mindset is difficult to understand if you’re accustomed to simply “getting things done.” Independent women must learn to extend grace and patience to those who aren’t as task-oriented as themselves.
Good: You are perfectly happy being alone.
Many people would consider this to be an introverted trait, but independent extroverts exhibit it as well. Contrary to how extroverts are portrayed in the media, many like to be alone for periods of time—usually to recover from the fast pace of their social schedule. Many independent women enjoy working alone. An extroverted independent woman might enjoy social events in the company of others, but would rather do homework and daily tasks on her own time. Independent women don’t look to others for affirmation or approval of their ideas. They are content being alone in their views and their goals.
Bad: You sometimes struggle with close relationships—including dating relationships.
While alone time is beneficial, relationships are beneficial, too. Independence is healthy in good measure, but not when it alienates us from others. No man is an island unto himself. We need the accountability of others to grow personally and spiritually.
This is often an acquired trait for independent women. We must learn to set aside our plans, desires and wants in order to cultivate quality relationships, dating and otherwise. All relationships require some give and take. They require linking arms or holding hands, deciding to need someone else for the value they add to our lives.
Good: You stand on what you believe and aren’t swayed by the crowd.
When you’re willing to stand alone, you’re willing to be different. Independence can be a sign of strength. But the most independent woman is successful only when she is fully dependent on God.
It is God’s truth that gives us something to stand on. It is His Word that guides our decisions and strategies for life. So while we are, to a degree, independent, we are never fully on our own. Because God created us, we are all connected to Him. We can submit to His guidance and love, or we can hold onto a perceived “freedom” that in reality is rebellion against Christ.
In Christ, we are given the strength to stand alone when the crowd turns against us. In Christ, we free to be fully ourselves—and fully servants of God. In Christ, we are both dependent upon His love and independent of this world’s expectations.