What Is Independence?

what is independenceIndependence is “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others” (from Dictionary.com).  So independence is freedom from something. Children become independent when they are no longer under their parents’ control or funding.  You may be independent from a boss when you start your own business.  But the ultimate independence is when you answer to no one and you are financially capable of supporting yourself with no help at all.  So what is independence?  It is your next step to being capable without the help of others.

Having a Job and a Place of Your Own

Your first independence is when you get your first job or jobs and you are able to move out and have a place of your own.  This is independence from your parents.  You will be of legal age to be on your own and you will no longer need to take money from mom and dad, at least not on a regular basis.  At this point you are still dependent on your job for an income but you are able to make a lot of your own decisions – live where you want, date who you want, not date, possibly have a few drinks, or do what you want when you want… except when that interferes with your job.

Independence From a Boss

Often a step in the independence scale is independence from having to answer to a boss, usually by having your own business.  Most people start businesses as part time ventures to prove out a concept before going full time, often leaving the job behind when the business can pay them enough to cover their full-time earnings.  While it is true that somebody in business does not report directly to a boss any longer, other parties often dictate the terms of their business such as a business partner, customers, the community, or the government.

However, it is a great feeling to be out on your own, be able to start your day when you want, work as much or as little as you want, or be as creative as you would like.

Financial Independence

Financial independence is a point when your earnings cover your needs.  When we talk about earnings in this case, we are referring to interest, dividends, or other non-work cash earnings.  While this may seem or feel like full independence, you are still dependent on your “nest egg” to provide enough to live off of.  If you choose to break it open and use it, you risk losing your financial independence.

Losing Your Independence On Purpose

There are times when people lose a degree of their independence on purpose, such as when they get married or take on a business partner.  Often this is desired, as the other person can contribute to creatively finding solutions for a problem or see another side to a situation.  The other person may also bring their own resources to the partnership, helping to create stability, or to gain financial or personal growth.

Gaining Your Independence Against Your Will

There are also times when a person gains their independence against their will, such as during a divorce or at the death of a partner.  It is also possible that a parent will want to have a child move out of their house before the child is ready.  All of these situations are difficult and often heartbreaking, often times creating new life situations to deal with.

Freedom and Independence

Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster write a song called “Me and Bobby McGee”, famously recorded by Janis Joplin (Wikipedia) that said “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. I strongly disagree with this statement. If you have nothing left to lose, you must get food, clothing, and shelter from others. Other people often have terms and conditions for such gifts, leaving the person dependent on others for their sustenance. So you are not free if you have nothing, you are free when you have plenty. More than that, you are independent and free when you have enough to survive off of indefinitely.

Degrees of Independence

What is independence if you can only get it in degrees? For instance, people in business are dependent on their customers. Children are dependent on their parents. Married couples are usually dependent on each other. Nobody is ever completely independent. Even the most independent person has the government to deal with. And if not that, the grim reaper. Leading us into the saying by Benjamin Franklin, “…nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” (Wikipedia) Of course, he may not have been the first to say something similar.

What Is Independence To You?

What is independence to you?  Let me know by commenting below.  Why are you seeking independence?

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