Hey friends! It’s been awhile. Between my last post and now I had finals which included the last test of my high school career, I visited the Bournes and the YWAM Morelia team in Mexico, my laptop broke, I performed in Legally Blonde with the APAA, I began rehearsals for Matilda, and then COVID-19 started. All that has led us here, to me telling you I haven’t been doing nothing.
That isn’t to say that I couldn’t have worked harder on getting my laptop fixed or written on someone else’s laptop (that’s a lie, I can’t stand doing work on other people’s laptops and I would have gone insane). I’m here now, though, and I’m so thrilled to be writing again.
First, a quick little update on my personal life before jumping into today’s post! I am obviously not in Minnesota. My parents and I both decided that it was going to be best to wait until the Fall 2020 semester to send me off to college. It was definitely disappointing at first, but it turned out for the best! I’ve gotten more time with friends and family, I get more time to save up, I get to go in during the same semester as a good friend of mine and a few other WNC residents. Also, COVID-19 would have sent back, so I would’ve been home anyways. With perhaps some additional stress added in. I am still going to be attending Bethany Global University this Fall, and I’ll be double majoring in Intercultural Studies along with Bible and Theology and minoring in Social Justice. Needless to say, the next four years will be incredibly busy but very worth it! Now to give you what you came here for. The blog article that could easily be a novel, but I will attempt to confine to a few paragraphs (or maybe a few posts…)
The past few months, this idea of self-sufficiency has crowded my thoughts. If you follow me on Instagram you may have already seen the condensed version of all this, but I feel it’s worth sharing here and diving into it a little bit more. I have noticed during my time in high school that more often than not people (particularly my peers, but plenty of those older than us as well) have adopted this desire to support themselves, comfort themselves, love themselves, grow and push themselves. Now, I would say none of these things are inherently bad, but these same people have adopted the belief that they have to do all these things by themselves. Independence is a dangerous game to play for beings who were quite simply not made for it. We were made for love and community with both God and each other.
Now I am by no means a master of letting go of my own deeply desired independence. I think that generally comes with being a teenager. I have to fight the part of me that tells myself that I’m being suffocated by rules, relationships, my own ability. Constantly. I have started to learn the beauty of true community and the peace it brings, the relief it is to not be required to do it all on my own and the joy it brings to help and guide others when they need it too.
Trust me, it is such a wonderful place to be when you know you have love like that being poured into you and that you are able to pass it onto others around you. It far surpasses any skewed sense of accomplishment one may get from completing something in solitude, or rather independently.
At this point, some of you may already be thinking “This woman is crazy. Isn’t it the #1 goal of anyone to be able to live independently and not have the ‘stress’ of relying on anyone else?” Many would say yes, and I can’t change someone’s goals for them. Well, it wouldn’t have any real effect anyways. But I can give a little insight, some food for thought. So here are some dangers that I see and have experienced personally when living independently becomes a priority.
Vulnerability to Guilt to Vulnerability to Guilt: So, in addition to the desire for independence, there is a push for vulnerability and openness going around. This one I am much more in favor of, but I could write another entire article on that (making a mental note of that actually). The point is, in the effort to satisfy both expectations, people share all about what they’re going through only to shut it down when people attempt to help because they’re afraid of appearing dependent on another person. This leads to them feeling guilty about even bringing it up and the cycle often goes on to repeat itself and leaves everyone involved frustrated and hurt.
Unmet Expectations: Here’s the thing, there are few things in life worth doing that are not made possible or at the very least made better by the involvement of community. Whether that is with God or with friends and family. Personally, I’ve found that anything that does not have God at the center of it simply does not satisfy – no matter the outcome. This is where independence begins to fall apart.
Whether you succeed or fail miserably, you’re bound to feel like something is lacking. In case you’re still wondering: community is what’s lacking. Maybe I’m too bold to make this sort of assumption, but it’s what I’ve found to be true personally and I’ve heard the same from countless other people throughout my life.
Unnecessary Stress: This is the part that people right in the middle of this search for independence seem to struggle with the most (2017-18 Gabrielle, I’m looking right at you). This is because they have this idea ingrained in their head that the stress of relying on another person or possibly letting down said person is so far beyond the stress of trying to figure out life all on their own. I think this is most common in people who have grown up with and gone their whole lives with this goal of self-sufficiency thrust on them by family or themselves.
There are so so many other things that I want to discuss about this topic, but I will save those for another time because I want to be sure to leave you guys with a bit of hope.
How I’ve Broken Out
Before moving on, I want to emphasize to you guys that this is all stuff I’ve dealt with personally and seen in many friends and even a couple family members. I promise you I’m not making this stuff up. It’s unbelievable how difficult it can be to break the mindset and habits that come with cultivating that desire for self-sufficiency for so long.
Honestly, there are still times that I hit a low point and I fall back into some of those habits. Now they’re (even more) exhausting, though, because I’ve felt the freedom that comes from embracing community with friends and family and a complete dependence on God. But how do you get there after fighting for self-sufficiency for so long? It’s not easy by any means, but here’s list #2 to share a little bit about how I managed it.
Recognition: After all, the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. It’s also a matter of recognizing what it is that’s hurting you specifically and what needs to be fixed. Not everyone has the same struggles with this. You may think of something as a problem simply because people tell you it’s one, but unless you know exactly why you want to change, your motivation will be practically non-existent.
Small Support-Group: When I say small I mean 2 people, maximum of 3, and let me tell you why. If you’re coming out of a place of isolation, it’s most likely you’ll have one of two reactions: excitement or anxiety (perhaps a bit of both). If you’re excited about your new progress you may be tempted to share with every person you’ve ever considered a close friend about everything going on and attempt to grow deep connections with all of them because you’re just so ecstatic to find that this sort of dependence is not a bad thing!
But as with any sort of healing, it’s a process and there will be highs and lows and you can become easily exhausted and discouraged during a low trying to maintain openness and connection with all these people. If you have a lot of anxiety at the beginning, it can be incredibly daunting to start opening up to people, but having a goal of just a couple of close friends to dive into that deeper relationship is much more feasible. I’m now a couple of years in to this whole process and I still only have maybe 3-4 people I really confide in. Once again, I could go on here but will save it for another time.
Check-in: Do not neglect this. Check-in with yourself as often as you think you need to. What’s still dragging you down? What habits are you really struggling to break? Are you still facing some issues that may indicate they go deeper than only a need for community? Journal, talk about it with someone, pray about it. I find it to be very rare that seeking outside advice does not do me good in one way or another. Whether that be affirming what I believed to be true or showing me other possible answers that I had yet to consider.
Now, this is not a one-size-fits-all sort of deal. There’s more depth to the process I went through than what’s said here. If anyone wants to hear more about my personal story, feel free to reach out! If you guys are interested in another post going more in depth about what it looked like (and looks like now) for me, let me know in the comments!
For today, we’ll be leaving it there. I plan to go into some things mentioned in this post more and explore some things not yet talked about! Please let me know if you have any questions, insight, personal experiences, or other resources such as bible verses and quotes that you think apply to this topic. I would love to hear from you guys! I am so glad to have the ability and time to be writing again, and I’m so beyond excited to see what comes from it.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read this! I hope it meant as much to you as it has to me. Be on the lookout for my next post in a week or so and don’t forget to follow my Instagram account @gabrielle____r in the meantime! I’m hoping to begin to post more over there each week as well. You won’t want to miss anything!