Independence

In the past few days at least two comments have been made about my independent nature. In some ways that nature has been a conscious choice. My mother was a very dependent person and I did not find it an attractive trait – especially when she wanted me to be the same way! Can you say ‘reaction formation’?

Other times it came out of necessity. I was single until I was 37. If it was going to get done, I was going to have to find a way to get it done by myself.

These comments about my independent nature coming one on top of another made me start to wonder. So what exactly is independence? Am I really all that independent ? And how do we retain as much independence as we can as we lose our sight?

Dictionary.com gives the first definition for independent as “not being influenced by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc. Thinking for oneself.”  Lower in the list are definitions including “not relying on others for aid or support” and “possessing a competency”.

Speaking from me and not from the perspective of an expert, I have also thought the concept of competence to be important when you are talking about independence. If I can do it myself, I don’t have to worry about dealing with someone else to get it done.

A corollary to that is, if I can pay for it myself, I don’t have to kiss any tushies to get it done! Thus, for me, having skills and resources was the bedrock of my independence.

Perhaps one lesson here is “forewarned is forearmed”. I started some financial planning long ago. I wanted to make sure our financial status would allow us some choices when I finally lose my vision or sustain any other natural disaster. I am working as long as I can, but if I lose my sight tomorrow, we will be okay financially. My decisions will be (and are) made based on what I want to do rather than than what I can barely afford. Independence.

Same idea about competencies. I keep learning and practicing and storing competencies away. I think I have said it before, but I only ask for help when I am flummoxed. If I can get it half done without help, it is half done before I ask. I make a good stab at things.

In talking about staying independent as a blind person, most of the websites talk about skills. New skill cultivation is an absolute requirement for independence.

Bringing me to another thought: belief in personal power. Arrogant little soul that I am, I generally believe I am competent. I will go over, around or through but I will find a way to get there! It would seem to be that to have independence, you have to believe in yourself. It can be done and we can do it!

I know people who confuse independence with social isolation or lack of responsibility for others. I have not found these things to be the same at all. Often I am independent because I am a part of a network.

I contribute what I can and receive from others in turn. People complement each other.

Those are my musing on the subject of independence. Gotta go get ready for hip hop….bringing up another stray thought: physical fitness leads to health and competence both of which increase independence.

Gotta go!

Next: Blind Skiing

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