Besides the fact that the song and video are amazing, the lines "I don't need no one" and "woke up this morning with my mind set on loving me" definitely spoke to me. This song adds to a list of others that teach little Black girls about being independent and self-sufficient. Songs like "Independent Women (Part 1)" had me waiting to be grown paying my own bills and not needing a man. These sentiments were reiterated by the women I grew up around. Seeing my mom, aunts, and grandmothers who are strong, career-driven, and truly independent women inspired and pushed me to be the person I am today.
I pride myself on being self-reliant because there was once a time when I was not. I've never really had an issue when it comes to my academic and career goals, but emotional independence was something I definitely had to learn. I constantly looked outward for happiness, reassurance, and basically the answers to my all of my problems. Putting my faith in temporary things and people only lead to my disappointment when they were no longer in my life. Using temporary things and people to fill a void in yourself only leads to further damage if you do not first learn to love and rely on yourself. I pride myself on being self-reliant because I know what that damage feels like, and what it feels like to come on the other side of it. I pride myself on being self-reliant because I've worked extremely hard to find my peace and refine my ability to be self- reliant.
This journey started when I made the decision to start looking out for myself to every extent of the phrase. For me, that meant being more clear about who and what I let into my space. To discern what I should let into my space I had to know who I was and what I wanted out of life at that point in time. I had to know who made me happy and who didn't, what activities I did and did not enjoy doing. Then, and this is the part I know a lot of people have trouble with, I had to actually stop engaging (or engage less) with those types of people and activities and/or spend more time engaging with the types of people and activities that were conducive to my growth and happiness. For me, that looks like saying "no" more often and standing by it if saying "yes" means exchanging my peace for someone else's comfort. I had to take back my power over my life and focus on the only two opinions that will ever matter: God's and my own. This allows me to make the most out of my time doing things I actually enjoy with people that actually make me happy. If I let certain people or things into my space, I know it's because I want them there, not because I felt like I need them.
Another thing that I've realized is that the more I focus on my relationship with God and myself, the less I need to depend on other people. I've learned that God speaks to you through your intuition and I've solved more of my problems by praying about them and waiting (im)patiently for God's answer than I ever did rushing to someone else for advice. This forced me to take more responsibility for my life instead of creating an easy opportunity to deflect when things didn't go my way. Now, instead of asking why certain things happen to me, I stop and figure out how to regain my balance and what I can do to grow from the situation. If it's something that's in my control, that also means figuring out how to keep it from happening as frequently or even altogether.
The only thing I know I am responsible for is my growth and happiness. What being an "independent woman" means to me is taking responsibility for myself (imagine the video of Tyra yelling at Tiffany) and creating the life I want instead of waiting for it to happen. It also means doing the inner work no matter how uncomfortable or tedious it may be. For example, I have to point out what traits about myself I have to work on, accept them as apart of who I am and then work to change them, all without it turning into self-loathing. I had to teach myself to not be so attached to people and circumstances, and to not expect anything from those people or circumstances, as doing so only leads to disappointment. This is definitely a skill I know I have to continue to develop over time (Beyoncé once said "Ladies, it ain't easy being independent"), but it has been one of the most fulfilling things I've experienced thus far. You won't realize that your life will glow up exponentially when you truly start to recognize your value and then reflect that in your actions.
To end this post on the best note, I'll leave y'all with this iconic music video: