Without having to Join Destiny’s Child or Charlie’s Angels
Today is Independence Day. Being a non-American woman with an incredibly loose grasp on history, when the 4th of July comes around I think of the alien film with Will Smith or those copious Pinterest boards full of star-spangled banner inspired cakes and barbecue dishes. Call me shallow, I probably am, BUT that’s because to me Independence means more than a war between one colonised country and another… it means standing on your own two feet. It means being an Independent Woman.
And you would be surprised to know that not enough women are doing that. Crazy and wrong! After all the hard work suffragettes, free thinking hippies and feminists have done through the ages to educate women on the importance of being able to be self-sufficient… what does our culture focus on? Finding a rich guy, a short cut to success based on vacuous beauty or taking it easy and poncing off Mum and Dad for as long as we can.
Women, get some bloody respect for yourself, and take pride in the fact that whatever life throws at you you should be armed and ready to go at it alone. Let the 4th of July be the day that you say ‘I am going to do this by myself, for myself!’ Don’t just be proud of your past, be proud of the future you are going to create for yourself!
Here’s my female check list for life. If you can say you have done most of this then you can call yourself a true Independent Woman. If you can’t, well best you start now… because that guy, your parents, whoever you are currently leaning on will not be around forever.
1. Get a job from as early an age as possible. Whatever it is, get that ‘this is my own money’ thrill from as early as your teens and you will never lose the need for self-sufficiency. Of course keep studying, but finance as much of it yourself as you can. That’s when you REALLY appreciate the good things in life!
2. Learn to drive. It gives you the ultimate freedom.
3. Learn to swim. It may save your life one day.
4. Learn to ride a bike… just because it’s weird if you get to adulthood and you can’t.
5. Say no. I don’t mean be rude, just respect your boundaries and your limitations, otherwise others won’t.
6. Go places on your own. Whether it’s backpacking the globe or to the cinema – go on your own when there is no one else to go with. Don’t miss out. Solo experiences are good for you.
7. Learn to cook. There is nothing better than knowing how to feed your friends or family cheaply, healthily and quickly.
8. Do what YOU want. As long as everything you are doing in life makes you happy, then you will succeed… just make sure it’s not at the detriment of others.
9. Conquer your fears. How liberating is it to know that whatever you do moving forward won’t scare you? That goes for walking into a crowded party on your own, or dealing with the spider in the bath… if you know you can deal with it without running to your mum or your boyfriend, then all the better for you!
10. Know when enough is enough. Never be scared to walk away, it doesn’t mean giving up… it means moving on. You will never get anywhere if you don’t keep putting one foot in front of the other.
11. Understand money. Never ever have anyone manage your finances for you, not even if you are a super rich woman with a team of accountants, without having a rough idea of what is coming in and out. You earned that money, damn it, so you better look after it!
12. Choose the right friends. Strong women don’t just stand by your side, they lift you up. Make sure that your girlfriends are even better than your boyfriends, because they need to be there during the good times AND the bad!
13. Think of the future. As children we rely on our parents, then some of us marry and rely on our other halves, then what? Get old and move in with your kids? No! Think NOW where you hope to be in 10, 20 or 40 years time and make provisions for it. The last thing you want to do is compromise your happiness in your old age.
14. Never stop learning. The true path to being independent is to stay knowledgeable. It may simply be getting to grips with the latest technology or going all out there and having a complete change of career direction. Just never stop learning, because no one knows everything.
15. Pass on your knowledge and support others. You got where you are today because of women like me, you and us. Share what you have learnt and help break the chains of those around us who are limited by their inability to look after themselves.
Yes, this also applies to men. For as much as many like to think of women as being the ones who need support and help – you take away the average wife from the average man and he falls down pretty quickly. So come on men, make sure you can do all the above too… because when she’s no longer there you can’t rely on the neighbours or kids to come running to darn your socks.
So how did you do, girls? Did you tick all the boxes? Or have you added a few more things to your Independent Woman To Do list?
And, if like me, you still have that Destiny’s Child song stuck in your head… well here it is. So crank up the volume and DANCE. Let’s celebrate Independence Day… for everyone!