a long read
“Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.”
Growing up, we are all expected to at some point become independent, capable of making our own decisions and sustaining ourselves fully. This independence must be achieved in all aspects of life including emotionally. In this entry the focus will be on addressing this idea of emotional independence. A common thread running through all humanity is the struggle to establish self in a meaningful way. This process is purely involuntary for many of us, fueled by the passage of time coupled with whatever we are subject to over the course of our very existence. This compliments the common narrative of identity being something to find not create, a narrative I plan to challenge.
Since birth we are growing. Equipped with remarkable brains we cannot resist taking in every scene and event theatrically playing out around us. Though behind the scenes we are not merely seeing or reacting to all the lights and glamour, but subconsciously soaking in our environment, slowly building a library of opinions that will ultimately inform our personality and character. This forward motion, constant and unwavering, demands us to be attentive of what we take from our surroundings as well as the footprints we leave behind. All this must be done for the sake of actualizing our best visions of ourselves, instead of forfeiting control and defaulting to being a direct by-product of our environment.
Having established the link between both personality and character with emotional independence, let us trace back and ask ourselves: What does emotional independence mean? What does it look like? How is it attained? Why is it important? These are the questions that flooded my mind as I quarreled with this topic, fighting to tame the thoughts running free in my head.
Growth Thought Experiment
In order to lay the proper foundation able to support my conclusions, let us conduct a thought experiment. Along my own journey, I have realized that one’s ideals and personality are very similar to the familiar human body when it comes to growth, let us begin there.
The scenario is this, take yourself as you are and turn back the clock for you body until childhood, the setting you place yourself in is your choice but preserve the same mental capacity you have now. The experiment will run like a simulation in which you will need to do something in order to meet a condition. The condition I am setting here is growth, simple as that. Well, what would you need to grow your body? There are many answers each with their own variations, but to just achieve growth, the basic requirements would be food, water and rest. Pressing play on the simulation, we see that those three needs will be enough to successfully allow growth.
This is the first scenario in which passive growth is modeled, the important thing here is to note the nature and quality of growth that has taken place. Given the bare necessities, growth did not occur purposefully but rather as a consequence of time and a suitable environment. Looking into our simulation, this growth gone unchecked reveals itself as the poor state of the body that has only received food, water, and rest. This is a body that is lacking in physical activity, fresh air and a strong immune system for example. Just passively growing is never enough, we must always strive to grow with purpose to ultimately manifest our ideal projections.
Now, reconsider our thought experiment with an amended condition to include emphasis on quality of life. Food, water and rest will no longer be enough to meet the set condition. To achieve the best quality of life physical activity, social interaction and mental stimulation are a must. This is intentional growth. The take-away here is that when the goal is to be involved and active, the things we do must mirror the nature of that goal. Passive growth just needs inanimate ‘things’ easily obtained, but intentional growth is a whole other level needing deliberate actions that compliment a larger plan.
The Dynamic Entity
With the framework set by the thought experiment I can now properly relay what I believe to be true. A major part of emotional independence is being able to confront who you are in its entirety and be at peace by either accepting what you see or knowing that what you see can be changed. I used to view personality and character as a vice slowly closing over time until a final, permanent form takes hold. Drawing parallels, this point of view mirrors the passive growth scenario, which implies that I played a minor role in defining myself.
Throughout life I have simply accepted what has been given to me with the promise that it will make me grow. Not much thought was put into the things I constantly found in my hands as I instead did with it as I was told. Investing myself in the opportunities put before me or better yet seeking out something new for myself, is still a new concept to me. The nail in the coffin with this frame of mind is the notion of an ultimatum which prohibits further change. This leads to an even more indifferent future in which you give yourself no choice but to accept, whether it be positive or negative.
It is so important to understand that change is always possible and in fact necessary for growth. I would even go as far as to say that what is not growing, is dead. Acting out of instinct, impossible is a quick label we attribute to things as a defense mechanism to shield us from failure and embarrassment, despite the potential rewards waiting on the other side if only we tried. So, I challenge you to confront that which you deem immovable, and reap the rewards hidden behind.
Having experienced the life brought by this passive mentality, I now embrace the idea that our intangible nature is dynamic, able to morph and change according to our wills. Simply put, personality is what makes a person who they are, it is the underlying core self. We are a collection of what gets caught in us as we fly through life. Therefore, adding depth and a sense of genuine to your personality would consist of seeking out more meaningful endeavors. These meaningful endeavors spark a passion within you that shines bright as you interact with other people. Like waves radiating from a source, you carry a certain aura or vibe interpreted as confidence and charisma by others. I have a friend who decided to take ownership for his own health and educated himself on the human body, another is a fountain of knowledge with regards to anything computational and mathematics, another takes pride in knowing and living out the heritage and traditions of her country, as for me I enjoy any debate or discussion revolving around the human condition. These are all unique flavors present only because the individual chose to pursue a feeling and turn it into a passion. Evidence that this an integrated part of these people, as a part of their personality, is the short amount of time that would pass in conversation until the mentioned topics are brought up.
In essence, emotional independence is more a state of mind that when achieved allows you to take charge of who you are and steer in the direction to who you want to be. This mentality states that who we are is subject to change, and this fact becomes a blessing or a curse depending on the level of involvement we are prepared to commit as time forces change to occur. So I leave you with this, the power brought by following genuine intent is our greatest weapon against the chaos and misery fighting to consume us, grow intentionally.
As usual I encourage you to not take my findings at face value but look into the topic for yourself. Draw your own conclusions and make your own observations, then come informed and compare what you have found. My only goal here is to start the conversation.
~ A Source of Inspiration: Sonja