As a child growing up with an inferiority complex, I’ve always wanted to be known as an “independent, smart, strong woman who needs no man.” I vowed to my younger self she’d be seen as an alpha female in spite of how she looked and felt about herself. I’m sure I’m not the only one who did. And although I think I’ve proven myself to be, I’ve come to know there are also a lot of struggles of being one. Several misconceptions are attached to independents that somehow devalue our characters which are in fact, common (but not limited) to us women. So I say we debunk these fallacies:
1. Independents are smart asses
Maybe some, but not all. Yes, we can be brutally honest but that’s just because we’re unafraid to stand up for what we believe in. Some of us had to give all our might to be heard. So to restrain and make ourselves feel small is not an option anymore. Speaking one’s mind bluntly with conviction can sometimes scare people off. Possibly because we’re bringing conversations on the table many are not ready for. But someone has to take one for the team, right?
2. Independents always need to prove themselves to the world
We all want to prove ourselves whether we admit it or not. We all want to be seen. But for the most part, we do it for ourselves and not for a pat on the back from the world. We like to see ourselves thriving both personally and professionally simply because it gives us a sense of self-satisfaction and happiness. We like to feel like we’re worth something and take pride in ourselves from time to time. It has nothing to do with the world.
3. Independents don’t need anyone
This one’s really funny since it’s the biggest misconception I believe. Apparently, we’re lone wolves, closed-off, bad communicators. I wouldn’t deny that may be true to a certain extent because disproving this is something I’ve struggled with the most. If it isn’t clear yet, handling ourselves is in our nature. So when someone says, “I’m here for you whenever, come whatever.” The natural response of our minds goes like, “OK, what am I supposed to do with this information?”
Like many, I have trouble initiating conversations, asking for help. And my best friend always ‘jokingly’ teases me for it. It isn’t because of him or that I’m shy or afraid of anything. But just getting used to being on your own that it almost feels odd to bother anybody else. Does that sound sad and pathetic? Maybe. But not for us.
Sometimes, when we do decide to need people, we don’t know what to ask for. As both social beings and independents, we don’t want to be forced into talking, just knowing that we can and someone is willing to listen is enough.
4. Independents have no feelings
Yeah right, ’cause we’re robots. Of course, we get upset, go through an emotional breakdown too. A strong personality is just a front sometimes. I bet you one of our skills is pretending to look for something while trying not to cry. Sometimes, we have no time for feelings. Sometimes, we just shove our feelings away because, in reality, they don’t really mean anything. Sometimes, feelings are just distractions from things that matter. But we also have our days where we want to drop everything and only care about our feelings. We all need those days to get it all out and understand ourselves better. If you ever find someone who tries to do everything on their own and is stable and sane even when the world beats them up, then I’d like some of what they’re having.
5. Independents only care about themselves
People who only care about themselves are narcissists. Independents can be self-centered but that doesn’t necessarily mean selfish as well. As I said, we’re accustomed to trust, value, and look after ourselves. And while that seems easy to do, it’s not.
Let me ask you this, have you experienced intense self-hatred that led you to push people away and constantly question their intentions? For some, it’s this experience itself that made them so independent. Because we don’t expect anyone else to care for us, we feel the need to focus on ourselves. This may appear like we don’t care about others but that’s just not the case.
Here’s another thing, allowing independents to care for themselves in their own way is a way of taking care of them too. But I’d have to say that we should also learn how to love and care for our people in their own love languages instead of ours. As Kai Greene said, “The greatest gift you can give someone is the space to be his or herself, without the threat of you leaving.”
6. Independents can’t handle intimacy
Behind a tough, distant, cold exterior is an emotional trauma, honey. Now, that’s a whole other Pandora’s box but here’s a tip of the iceberg. Showing affection wasn’t my area of expertise. I was desperate to look for a manual entitled, “How do you tell someone you miss them and want to see them without telling them you miss them and want to see them?”
Because I wasn’t affectionate, I used to get mad instead. Two to three years ago, you would never get me to admit this. Yes, you guys, your girl showing attitude ’cause she misses you is a real thing. There was a time I wanted to hang out with someone but I didn’t want or know how to ask so I just acted like a brick wall, one that makes subtle but not-so-subtle upset faces. I know being passive-aggressive is toxic. It wasn’t my proudest moment either.
It’s also probably (definitely, Ruk, definitely) why I can’t keep anyone around. But hey, it’s a choice. Tearing down your walls of defenses, letting someone in is always a challenge. Managing attachments, relationships, is not as easy as having another scoop of ice cream or skipping a workout. I used to even think, “OK, I’m off the market. Maybe it’s just not for me.”
I’m not gonna lie, this one’s pretty hard to debunk since I’m also still working on it myself. But I’ll go with this, we may not wear our hearts on our sleeves, but that doesn’t make us heartless. Plus, while it may be true that we struggle with intimacy, it’s untrue that we can’t handle it. We just don’t period. And that doesn’t have to entail something’s wrong with us or the other party. The bottom line, attaching yourself to another person is a decision we all have to think through thoroughly.
7. Independents have bitchy attitudes
Or we are just passionate enough to go after what we want, what we deserve. Why want to be the first lady when you know you can be the president, right? It’s no news most independent women are called a bitch. Well, Tabatha Coffey redefined what it meant to be a bitch: brave, intelligent, tenacious, creative, and honest. She said these are qualities women excel at. So I guess, it’s not that bad to be a bitch. If we don’t pave our own way to be seen and heard, who’s going to do it for us? If you feel uncomfortable or get intimidated because women can play alphas, well, that sounds like a you-problem.
Independents are secure about themselves because they don’t let other people’s view of them alter their own. This means I didn’t really need to write this article to debunk such misconceptions. But regardless, we also want to be understood the way we want to be understood.