Being an (in)dependent throughout life

Danielle Zukowski

Independence is a fallacy. As much as we may cultivate pride from “self reliance,” the essence of humanity is rooted in dependency. Infancy marks the start. Tears stream. Mama feed me. Cries and shrieks; daddy clean me. Piercing yells. Hold me. But that’s just when we’re babies, right?

I too have fancied myself independent at times. I based my self esteem upon my achievements that I believed to be free of other’s assistance. Look at me walking everywhere. Making my own beauty products. Budgeting our finances. Paying bills. Scheduling appointments. Adulting all on my own. So independent, right?

But let’s dissect that. On my walk, I wear boots that were sold by somebody, shipped by somebody, packaged by somebody, made by somebody, designed by somebody, I don’t create my own path, I take the sidewalk constructed by a crew. Make my own products? From where do I get the ingredients? The recipes? Where do I get money from to pay these bills? Someone employed me. What does my job entail: interacting with others. 

Although our dependency morphs with age, becoming less physically evident at times, it still remains. Our behavior may appear to be solitary if we think in a linear fashion. But if we truly evaluate each area of our lives and the journey those objects or actions have taken to become what they are, I think we will realize the vast community that exists within every day. Once we let go of our ego, we may recognize this circular path of dependency.

Even alone we represent the interconnectivity of human interaction, which has been furthered immensely by globalization. As the distance between countries symbolically decreases, I would argue that we actually become increasingly reliant on others. As that interaction becomes more accessible, why not utilize it? Skip cooking in favor of going out to eat. Buy clothes instead of sewing them. Our fast-paced culture is reflected by a higher amount of people going into each aspect of our day. In order for our routines to be as quick and easy as they are, there’s got to be people behind the scenes. A lot of people. 

Perhaps some people are more independent than others. Certainly dependency is a spectrum. We are not all as equally reliant. Some people definitely achieve success with little help. Emphasis on the little. However, is it really accurate to claim that one’s accomplishments were actuated without any help? 

Absolutely no other people were influential or gave you a chance? No one hired you or accepted you into a university? You didn’t need any references or letters of recommendation? Relatively, you could be more independent than another person but come on, look around.

Recognize those known and unknown that have granted the life you are accustomed to. Find joy in what you have succeeded, but also express humility in recognition of those who may have supported you. In self reflection, as we enter into a new semester, attempt to be mindful of the ways in which your daily routine comes together because of other people. In feelings of loneliness, consider the presence of community.