Throwback Thursday #9 – Independence

Throwback Thursday Memory Blog Hop is mine this week. Lauren and I take turns posting this challenge every Thursday. Participation is easy.

  • Write your own post sharing your memories and leave a pingback to this post in the comments.
  • You can use the photo above in your post to make it easier to find.
  • Tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen.
  • If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below.

This week’s prompt is: Independence

Learning to be independent is a critical step in adolescent development. Some people ease into it a step at a time, and others plunge in all at once. When did you start to feel independent? Maybe it was when you finally had your own bedroom, or perhaps the first time your parents let you stay home alone. Or maybe the first time you slept over outside your own home. Money can signify independence. What was your first job? Maybe indepedence was transportation – a new bike, your driver’s license, a new car or your first trip on an airplane. Or maybe, it was when you moved away from home – maybe into a college dorm, or an apartment of your own or maybe it was moving in with a significant other and sharing space outside your parents home. Or maybe it was something else entirely. What milestones signified your search for independence?

My post follows.

I was the youngest of four children in my family – three girls and one boy. Bedrooms were always shared and when we got older, were divided up based on gender. In a three bedroom house, that meant three girls in one bedroom, our brother in the second, and our parents in the third. I didn’t have my own room until my sisters moved out and away from home. I was in high school. Oddly, after sharing a room for most of my life, it seemed too quiet. I do remember going to see my oldest sister’s apartment in Akron, Ohio and I thought it was so big. In actuality it was a small studio apartment carved out of an older home. It did have a private entrance, but the bed and small kitchen occupied the same open space. It till seemed expansive and grown-up to me.

I think my feeling of independence came slowly. Since I was the youngest of four, I had much more freedom than my siblings had at the same age. My parents learned a lot by the time I was a teenager – my siblings were the guinea pigs.

I did not follow many of the traditional steps of adolescent independence. For example, I did not get my driver’s license until after I was married. I did not have my own space until I was in high school. I did work, though, so I had a little money which for me was great because money was tight when I was a teen.

My first job was babysitting. Most often for friends of my parents so they could all go out together. There were two young boys I sat for most frequently. Then I worked as a waitress and a hostess at a Mr. Steak restaurant – but even there, I worked with my brother.

I was allowed to date fairly early – earlier than my sisters, but honestly, I never gave my parents any reason to worry. I was a good kid. I didn’t really have a curfew, I knew what my parents expected of me and I complied.

I think I learned that independence also comes with responsibility. My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was a senior in high school so I grew up fast where being responsible was concerned. I was still very connected to my nuclear family up until the time I joined the Air Force.

I have written about leaving home and joining the Air Force on this blog before. It remains one of my most read post series. You can read about that experience here: Girl on a Plane

Joining the military was an eye-opening experience. My parents did a good job of teaching me their version of right and wrong, but we do need to seek out our own version, don’t we? Even though I was away from home, I was in a dormitory full of women from all over the country. These were women of all ethnicities who had their own ideas of values often different than mine. Even in my dorm room, I lived with a stranger – Sue K. from Connecticut. Everyone learned how to get along despite our differences – the consequences of anything else would have been disastrous.

Regardless of who you live with or share space with, in the military everyone is responsible for their own actions. You rise or fall on your own merit and no one individual is held in higher regard than another. You learn your individual decisions have the potential of affecting multiple people. There, more than anywhere I have ever lived, I learned the importance of putting differences aside and working together to achieve a common goal. Independence allowed for making your own decisions, but then you alone were responsible for the consequences.

In my opinion, independence does not mean being on your own, allowed to do anything you choose, but it is an intelligence learned from standing on your own, understanding how we fit in the world, and being fully responsible for our decisions.


24 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday #9 – Independence”

  1. Military life is a strange phenomenon that is impossible to adequately explain. The fact that it teaches the twin aspects of independence and integrated living and mutual support at the same time is unique!

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    1. It was an experience I am thankful I had. All our basic needs were taken care of and I had more discretionary income than I would ever have again! Thanks for reading, Peter.

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  2. My first try at being independent was when I had my first serious girlfriend. Despite being only 15, I was out until very late, using buses and trains to get home. (We stayed together until I was 21)
    Then real independence came two years later, when I passed the driving test and started to use my own small car. That was more like ‘freedom’ though, as I still lived at home, so wasn’t
    remotely independent.
    At 19, I moved out of the parental home, and shared a house with friends. Finally having to do my own washing and cooking, pay my share of the bills, and feel that I had to be ‘grown up’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. Pete, it sounds as if you had a more traditional method of finding independence by taking gradual steps. I cannot imagine navigating public transport as you did at such a young age. I think for many people, finding independence often does not happen until they are, as you were at 19, fully responsible for everything in their lives.

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