I’ve noticed that the millennials and gen Z are struggling with independence – but not in the way that you might think. They have become too independent. This generation has been told over and over again how we need to be independent as being dependent on someone – especially as a woman – would be “weak” or at least not a very feminist thing to do. Women have fought so hard to get this independence and equality that being anything “less than” would be a failure of this generation.
In principle, being independent is very good. It’s good to be able to take care of yourself, manage your money and nutrition, make sure you keep up with work or studies, make an appointment with the doctor when needed, etc. But there is a flipside to this. When we become too independent we struggle to let anyone help us and we find it difficult to be in a relationship. This is difficult because often we want these things but we don’t quite understand why those relationships are failing. With independence we lose the ability to be vulnerable with our partners. We often think that we cannot show weakness and ask for help – we need to be able to handle everything by ourselves.
We develop independence as a coping strategy early on. Maybe we had to be independent as children already because we had few others taking care of us in the ways we needed. This coping strategy helped us survive, it proved to be beneficial. This is why letting go of this in our young adulthood can be so difficult. It’s wired in us that it’s the only way to survive.
“Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.” –Erik Erikson
If you notice in yourself that you struggle with letting people close to you, letting them help you, or being vulnerable, it’s time to start letting go of the independence just a little bit. Start with small steps, maybe you can ask a friend to listen to your worries for a change? Or ask someone to help you with hanging a painting on a wall! After all, we are not alone in this world, and it’s ok to ask for help. You would help others as well right? Let them do the same for you.