Balancing our individuality against the Whole can be a tricky negotiation, especially in the age of shared spaces, collaboration and immersion to a data stream that weaves itself through our work and recreational lives. The tapestry of our digital experiences meld with our family and professional personalities, and in the age of transparency, it can be even more difficult to determine where you end and the rest of the world begins. The Hive Mind has its advantages, but what if you’re like Hugh of The Borg and want off the Cube?
How can you be independent? Two quotes in particular kept filtering to the top of my awareness as I considered this question.
“To thine own self be true.”Â ~ Wm. Shakespeare from Hamlet
“I wanna tell you a little secret: being “The One” is just like being in love. No one needs to tell you you are in love, you just know it, through and through.”Â- The Oracle from The Matrix
From this, I draw a couple of conclusions. The first is that we cannot give away all of our energy to everyone else in order to reach what we presume to be “success.” We are but one Being in a sea of Others. Spending our days immersed in the stream of life, we must operate within society as a moving, living, breathing component. That said, we MUST retain our autonomy and sense of self in order to contribute fully to society.
We must remain true to who we are and what we stand for in order to establish our independence.
Using an example I use quite often with myself when presented with a choice, I ask myself, “Can you live with yourself if you make this decision?”Â Because it’s true: of the billions of people now walking the planet, you are the only person who is going to be with you for the rest of your life. Can you sleep at night after making your decisions? Can you look yourself in the mirror?
If you can’t, you are not independent. You are tethered to regret or some other emotion that keeps you from it. Do the work to figure out why (ie. determine your motivations, make amends, release a debt, forgive someone, etc.) and take another look in the mirror. Repeat as necessary.
Other, more practical tips:
Â Take a digital sabbatical, even if for one day
Â Put your device away during meetings or mealtimes
Â Journal, using a real pen and paper
Secondly, being independent just IS. You either are or you’re not. I can’t tell you if (or when) you are; you just are. According to Kurt Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”Â A logical extension of this statement is that through the the act of Being, we ARE. Therefore, the degree to which you are independent is simply a matter of scale.
Continuing, to use Morpheus’ quote from the Matrix, “There is a difference between knowing The Path and walking The Path.” And to paraphrase the Oracle,Â what’s really going to bake your noodle is that it’s difficult to discern just exactly when you transition from one plane to another.
One day, you’ll go from stocking up on self-help books, collecting quotes on your bathroom mirror and affirmations to one day just *doing.* You will have rebooted your noodle and your brain’s code will have been rewritten.
At the risk of using just one more movie reference, if you’ve seen Forrest Gump’s face as he realizes that he’s running without his braces on? THAT’S what being independent is. You are trucking along, when all of a sudden you look down and realize, “Holy crap! I’m doing this!”Â
Trust yourself. Move from faith to action. It will happen.
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter asÂ @mckra1g orÂ @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive) or like them on facebook.