By Jen Fine, IATG ContributorJuly 1, 2016
A very wise woman–and by a wise woman I mean Coco Chanel of course– once said, “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Those words, which seem pretty run of the mill with just a quick glance, are actually some of the most powerful I have ever read. When we talk about independence, we speak of paying bills, living alone, and, most importantly, “not needing no man.” I want to steer the conversation in a different direction, however. Instead, I want to talk about the mind, the formation of opinion, the power of independent and unique thought.
As we start to grow up and spread our wings, we seem to become more focused on becoming physically and financially independent of our guardians, ready and able to move out and move on. In my opinion, it’s quite important to develop an independent mind and an ability to think for oneself before any of the other aspects can come into play.
As young adults, more specifically young women, it is vital to formulate our beliefs on our own terms. What does that mean, you ask? It means that these ideas and conclusions should rest upon a solid framework that does not include Cosmopolitan magazine’s most recent issue or the experiences of your best friend’s boyfriend’s cousin. The thought processes that we have should come from within us, from our first-hand experiences, rather than the peer pressures we face from society.
Just because the world wants us to think or feel or act a certain way does not mean we are responsible for adhering to these absurd standards or protocols.
To fight back against these pressures and become comfortable coming to our own conclusions about an issue or a situation, we need to remember that our mind is exclusively our own. Even when our thoughts don’t necessarily line up with our actions, we are still wholly and completely entitled to believe whatever it is that we believe. From our preference in presidential candidates to how we like our coffee in the morning, this world is ours to navigate. While we may desire to step away from dependence and lean toward a life on our own, we must not forget that this life cannot be built without the ability to make our own choices and decisions separate from the wants of others.
Independent thought is sexy. Formulating your own thoughts equates to passion. Having a voice is important. It is for all of these reasons that we must continue to live our lives apart from the standards, on the opposite side of the “should’” and the “must.” To be independent is to be secure in your own thought process and sure of what it is you stand for. Although we may be eager to live on our own, cook our own meals, and balance our checkbooks, none of this will carry any weight in the scheme of things if we are unable to think for ourselves while doing so.
Sometimes it feels easier to go with the flow. Being true to yourself requires vulnerability and courage. Have you ever struggled with voicing your own opinion? How did you find the strength to speak up and speak out?
Jen is currently a junior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She enjoys all things sarcastic, obsessing over the New York Rangers, and is a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee fanatic. When she’s not singing in the shower, writing her feelings, or dishing out life advice to her friends, you can catch her lying around watching One Tree Hill for the third time. Feel free to check out her personal blog at jenfine.wordpress.com for more!