Nathan Peterson

The Fantasy of Independence

"How can I have everything I need without needing anything from anyone?"

This question has subtly influenced my life for 44 years. I'm learning how limiting this question--and the mindset behind it--has been for me.

I grew up understanding that independence was a virtue. And while a certain degree of self-reliance can be healthy, the type of independence I grew up respecting--not needing anything from anyone--is not a virtue at all. It's a fantasy.

We need each other by design. We literally depend on an outside source for our very next breath, on each other for our very next meal.

We can act independent. We can have an attitude of independence. But we are never truly independent.

We've learned to feel shame for having needs--for something which is built in to the fabric of the entire universe, us included. A tree needs the sun, the soil, and the air. And the world needs the tree.

We all have needs--needs which can only be met by a flow of resources that come from outside ourselves and our abilities. Until our final breath, this will be true. What good is it doing us to pretend otherwise?

Is it shameful to have needs? Where did this shame originate? Where has it led us?

Uprooted, starving for nutrients.

Release the fantasy and look up. You are standing on the nutrient-rich soil you need. You are covered by an infinite source of sunlight. You are surrounded by oxygen, and abundant love. Everything you are killing yourself to go get is right here for you. Already yours.

You don't need to get better at go-getting; you need to learn how to better receive. This starts with letting go.

Let go of the belief that your needs are shameful. You have needs. So do I. Of course we do! We have roots and leaves, mouths, noses, eyes, ears, stomachs, hearts--a million built-in channels for the purpose of receiving.

While we fantasize about independence, within each of us is a deeper longing: we want to belong... to feel loved and supported.

We can let go of the fantasy of independence to receive something so much better. We are interdependent. We are meant to be supported, and to support. We are generous by nature. Generosity seeks out needs. Your needs are not detestable; they're important, desired opportunities for beautiful expressions of love.

Let's identify the elephant in the room. Fear has crept up on us again. This time, disguised as a respectable quality of a responsible adult.

In my attempt to look like a responsible adult, not needing anything from anyone, I don't feel like an adult. I feel afraid. I'm afraid to depend on you. I'm afraid you'll let me down. I'm afraid I'll let you down. Being human is scary. Love is risky. Facing this fear is a necessary part of our growth into true adulthood. Take courage. You are not alone.

The water is ready to flow. The sunlight is never-ending. The oxygen is plentiful. There is no shortage. Allow yourself to receive. You belong here.

#connection #freedom #interdependence #self-awareness #self-care