“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
If there is ever a trying moment for the fiercely independent it is without a doubt, the moment they have to cohabitate with another human being. Perhaps it stems from my selfish sense of pride or my need to fortify a spine made of brittle insecurities but there are few greater gratifications in my life than that of self-actualization. I am human and like most humans, I need the company of others. What I have trouble accepting, however, is the idea that I really cannot do it all on my own.
I have lived with plenty of roommates but being half a world away in a one-bathroom apartment with two guys is a totally different story. Especially when one of them is the alpha-male version of myself. I know better than anyone that this world only needs one of me. Nothing (or close enough) bothers Brad. He’s content with taking care of everything, making all of the decisions and letting me sit back and enjoy my vacation.
But uh, hi my name is Danielle and by age eight I was planning my birthday parties by the half-minute. (11:45am Guests Arrive. 11:45:30am Guests Still Arriving) This, of course, came as no surprise after I coined my own tag line at age four: “I IN CHAWGE HEAH!”
So it goes without saying that one of my most formidable demons in life has always been my inability to relinquish control and not perceive every favor as somehow being demonstrative of my own insufficiencies.
I choose the most innocuous of tasks to stage full-out wars in favor of proving my self-worth. “I KNOW how to cook a chicken, Brad.” “I can do my OWN laundry thankyouverymuch.” If I were a reasonable person I would just let him do the damn laundry. Seriously, how many times in your life will a man offer to do your laundry?
In simple terms, I have to learn to accept that when someone microwaves my dinner for me it’s not because they think I’m incapable of doing it on my own.
What I’m learning is that independence is not a product of circumstance. It’s not born by someone who simply earns their own pay, makes their own meals or does their own laundry. Am I more self-sufficient because I can roast a chicken or fix a flat tire? Maybe. But more independent? Not at all. Independence is a product of individual thought earned by those who believe in and establish their own self-worth.
Two days ago I was sitting on the back of a dive boat watching the horizon bounce in and out of view. We were being tossed around in 6ft seas somewhere between the coast of Cairns and our first dive site on The Great Barrier Reef. It was cloudy and cold and I was trying desperately to keep my breakfast down. And that’s when it hit me. (Yes, I have epiphanies at the most inconvenient times.) I already earned my independence. I chose to be there. I believed that I was worth grad school, that I was entitled to drain my bank account and fly myself across the world and accept the hospitality of others.
In fact, I earned my independence a long time ago. I earned my independence as a toddler when I believed in my worth enough to tell adults that I was in charge of them. I was too young to understand why, of course, but the innate belief was there. And It is ironic that I went on to spend a good portion of my young adulthood relearning what, as a child, I already knew.
And I’ll confess, I am far from extinguishing the knee-jerk reactions I have when someone offers to do something for me. This trip has only made me more aware of how obnoxious these tendencies of mine are. But I suppose that in and of itself is part of the lesson. I have a lot of learning to do. But if you ask me, I couldn’t have ended up with a better classroom 🙂
Below are some pictures from weeks 2 and 3. I’ll give you the play by play when I get some more down time. Tonight…we’re going to see a rock opera produced by Karen O at THE Sydney Opera House. Then we leave for Bali in the morning!!!!! Cheers.