“I am an independent woman.” This is such an interesting statement to me. In society today, It is often a badge of honor or personal mantra. To me, it is simply a statement of truth. As a single woman coming up on my 30s, I’ve spent my life living this statement. I AM an independent woman. It’s simply what I am. It’s not a positive or negative thing. It’s a reality. Lots of women, even after finding a man and getting married, still want this statement to be a defining part of their identity. It’s been a very important concept to women since the feminist movement and the dawning of an era when women finally had value outside of home-making and child rearing.
In the position I’m in, being capable of taking care of myself isn’t something I often identify, as it’s the default and daily status quo. I actually don’t stop to think about it until I have the rare and wonderful occasions when I don’t have to be independent. I remember feeling ridiculously emotional, after a stressful time of traveling for work, when my dad picked me up at the airport when I was meeting up with them for a family vacation. I didn’t have to carry my luggage, get my own rental car, navigate a new place, find a place to eat, or pay for every little travel thing. It’s like I could take a break from being an adult for a week. It was wonderful.
In general, I am terrible at asking for help. I have always hated feeling like a burden on someone else. I remember, whenever I was sick as a child, walking back and forth from my room to my parent’s a multitude of times, trying to decide whether I was sick enough to warrant waking them up, even though they NEVER made me feel bad about it. I knew my dad was often on-call and had to wake up in the middle of the night for work. And anytime I had a bad dream and wanted to sleep with my folks, I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep because I would lay perfectly still, not wanting to move to a more comfortable position, for fear I would annoyingly wake them up and make my dad move to a different bed so he could sleep. It wasn’t till fairly recently that I realized he moved because HE tossed and turned and didn’t want to wake me. I still have this problem anytime I have to share a bed. I end up barely being able to sleep.
Living with roommates has given me the opportunity to work on my inability to ask for help. They have been wonderful about never making me feel bad for asking. I also have started to put together that, since I never feel put out when someone I care about asks me to do something for them, it’s safe to assume the they probably feel the same.
I have a number of very specific memories of feeling EXTREMELY touched by small gestures of kindness and awareness of my need. Not even need, just awareness of me: when some of my guy friends grabbed my suitcases to carry them from the car to the house, a man who always make a point of making sure he is the one to open the door, two of my closest friends who remembered the earrings we had spotted months earlier and surprised me with them at one of my big performances, and my wonderful friends and colleagues who randomly insist on paying for coffee/lunch/dinner. I can picture their faces, the situations, and my surprised and touched reaction.
When it comes to the 5 Love Languages, my number one is absolutely Quality Time. It isn’t just how I feel loved, it is the basis for ALL of my relationships. I NEED it to be close to someone. In a romantic relationships, Physical Touch is a probably second. Words of Affirmation are a way I express my affection, both platonically and romantically, on a regular basis. I very rarely filter the positive things I’m feeling about someone. I just tell them, awkward or not. But it’s never been hugely important to receive. I never really even thought about Gifts or Acts of Service much, although I also find Acts of Service an easy way for me to express my affection and I’m sort of terrible at remembering to buy Gifts.
However, as I’ve been exploring this concept of being independent, I realized that Gifts and Acts of service are things that make me feel ESPECIALLY loved. They aren’t necessary for me to be close to someone and often aren’t part of my closest friendships, as many of those are long distance. BUT the moment someone does something for me or gets me something as a gift, a wash of appreciation and almost dumbstruck awe comes over me. I honestly often don’t know how to express my thanks and also feel its silly to feel as grateful and touched as I do. I think it’s just a natural part of being a single woman in your (almost) 30s. I’ve spent the majority of my life not being anyone’s number one priority, except my parents… who are AMAZING at making me feel loved.
My dad is the first and most prominent memory I have of Acts of Service. He always sees people. He sees their need and fills it, often before they have a chance to ask. I remember, on vacation, when Kristin, toting baby Nora around, simply mentioned that she was thirsty. Our conversation went on and minutes later, my dad (who had magically disappeared… he’s great at that) reappeared with bottles of water for everyone. He simply saw a need and could easily fill it, so he did. That is how he operates with EVERYONE. And my mother is the best, most personal gift-giver I know. Every Christmas in the Wilde household is nothing short of magical. She decorates the house and each gift with beauty and care. Every gift is specific, purposeful, and meaningful. She even gave me a giant bag of rolled quarters once, as she knew I was always running out of laundry quarters and found it a slight point of stress. I never have to give her a list anymore, because she makes note of things I’ve mentioned and even those I hadn’t even thought about, but were related to specific aspects of my life. She is simply amazing and ALWAYS remember to send cards and gifts.
Having parents like that have made me value deeply people who “see” me. Little things and tiny gestures make me feel loved beyond words. Since I function in adult life in a single state, acknowledging me in a specific way, though words and deeds, makes such an impact. And, by God’s Grace, I am literally surrounded by people who do this. I have some of the BEST people in the world in my life, and that really isn’t an exaggeration. Still being single at my age could leave one feeling wholly lonely and generally unloved, but that is NOT the case for me. While I do have the moments of aching for a man to share my life with, I also revel in having the chance to spend my time and energy investing in my friendships and family. And while I appreciate that I am so comfortable being independent, I love that I don’t HAVE to be all the time and look forward to the day when I can relinquish some of that independence to the man I marry. And get ready, whoever-you-are, I’m a handful. 🙂