I was recently walking through the streets of Lisbon with Tabea when I was posed with the question “Why the hell are you so fiercely independent?” Taken back a bit, I asked what she meant by it. “It seems,” she explained, “that you’re so convinced that independence is the best way to live your life. To the extent that if you feel you’re dependent on another person, you immediately remove yourself from that situation.”
Well alright. How would you react to that? Cause I had no idea how to respond. Like yeah? Of course I value independence. I’m solo traveling? Is that a bad thing?
But then I thought about it. I thought about how I must give off that vibe. What do you think? Fiercely independent or nah?
I remember what brought up this conversation. I had just finished telling her about my previous night, when I followed a group from the hostel to some super hipster club across town just because I wanted to hang out with the bartender, Alex, again. I ended up spending 20 minutes walking all over the building, having half-assed conversations with strangers, and wondering whether I was there for my happiness or if I was reliant on Alex to bring me happiness. Turns out, I didn’t like that feeling. So I left. On my own. Just grabbed my coat, walked out of the club, wandered through the streets of lisbon, went home. A truly tame night, but it was based on a decision I was more comfortable with.
And as I told Tabea this story of me force quitting on the night, I found myself even more comfortable with that choice. To me, the ability to decide whether your motivations are genuine or not is an incredibly valuable skill… is it not?
So when Tabea questioned my “fierce independence,” I was caught off guard. Is it truly hurting more than helping me? She asked if I thought so. If I thought I was handicapping potential relationships/friendships because I can’t fall into dependency easily.
Maybe. Probably. I could see the logic there.
I’m reminded of my mother in moments like these. She’s always been the most inspirational person to me. Her strength is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. And to me, that’s one of the most valuable traits someone can have. Strength. And if that means fierce independence, I’ll take it. When my mother was my age, she took off to Italy to be an au pair (live in nanny, for those who don’t know). She picked up and left Ireland with no intention of coming back. She ended up in the states, started a life, and left her past behind. Isn’t that inspiring to you?
She tells me it’s because we’re both Sagittarius. I, personally, don’t subscribe to much of the astrological mumbo jumbo, but sometimes the stars align enough for it to make sense. Sagittarius is the stubborn, independent, restless, candid, reckless, curious, irresponsible star sign. Sounds fitting, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why I’m like this. Maybe blaming the stars for some of your seemingly worst traits is just using an excuse.
I wonder sometimes if solo travel has increased my necessity for fierce independence or not. I feel it has truly made me appreciate other people more. But maybe I’m just fooling myself. What do you think?