Happy July 4th everyone! This week, we Americans will consume mass quantities of booze, watermelon, hot dogs and things that explode, all in the name of our independence from Britain circa 1776. And while that is reason enough for celebration, I have my own special holiday that happens to fall during this week. July 6th is the anniversary of my move to Nashville, my emancipation from my old life and what I like to colloquially refer to as my “Independent’s” Day. It is the day I severed ties with all my safety nets to become a truly independent woman and it might be my favorite day of the year.
Major life moments typically happen in such a way that you don’t even notice them until they’re in hindsight, because for the most part it’s all the little things that are actually the big things. But once or twice in a lifetime there is something so monumental and core shaking that you know it while it’s happening; you are drawing a line right down the middle of your existence and now only acknowledge your life as pre and post this event. For me, this line was drawn from 2018-2019, and my move to Nashville was putting me firmly on the other side of my life. Leaving my family, friends and home of 33 years 300 miles in the rearview, I uprooted my life to a metropolitan city I’d merely visited 3 times to do a job I was tremendously underqualified for. There was no safety net; my parents were no longer 5 minutes away and I couldn’t lean on existing relationships for job opportunities if things didn’t pan out. I put myself in a sink or swim situation and it was not an option to drown.
It’s incredible for me to mentally review these past 2 years. I take a great deal of pride in the growth I’ve made as a human during this time. Looking back on those first weeks, broken, crying myself to sleep alone until my chest ached and questioning if I made a mistake; I knew nothing about my job, the city and had 1 friend. But every day I got up and worked through the discomfort. I listened and learned. That job forced me to explore my new city, and introduced me to tons of new connections. I made friends out of my networking, people I now consider best friends. I now walk down Main Street in Franklin and the violin player on the street corner knows me by name, and it’s near impossible to avoid running into someone I know.
There is a great deal of confidence that comes with the realization you don’t NEED a single other soul besides yourself. Once I saw just how much I was capable of and began to love and respect myself it became easy to weed out the relationships that didn’t serve me anymore. I’ve developed the ability to cut people off at the first whiff of toxicity, and while I might be slightly jaded and hardened, it’s also forced me to raise my standards in partnerships both romantic and friendly. I have achieved a level of self-assurance that only comes from knowing without a doubt that you can survive anything because you’ve actually done it. Something happens to my job? No problem, I’ll find a new one. Been there, done that. Someone I’ve been seeing is acting shady? Blocked and deleted. I was betrayed by the love of my life and lived, you think I care about someone I’ve been seeing for 2 weeks?
I don’t mean to sound like an ice queen, but the truth of the matter is this. Life is bitterly short and the only person who has to experience YOUR life is YOU. I have wasted years of my life pouring my energy into everything but myself and got nothing in return. When I started being “selfish” and worrying about me is when my life turned around. I don’t want to spend my days on earth working myself to death for a company who doesn’t appreciate me, nor do I want to emotionally bankrupt myself trying to make someone love me as much as I love them. Instead, I choose to love myself enough that I don’t need someone else’s affection to feel complete, and to know I’m an asset at any job of my choosing who would be lucky to have me. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
For me, there has been no greater gift than the freedom of total independence. I strive to have total freedom from anything and anyone that will hold me back from a happy, fulfilled and positive existence. When I moved I became completely self-sufficient, with no obligation to accommodate any family or friends. While I love my parents dearly and hold their opinions in high regard, they are just that-opinions…and they ultimately have no bearing on my personal decision making. In emancipating myself from who I used to be, I now have the confidence to walk away from ANYTHING that is a negative energy in my life. I was reborn on July 6th, 2019. In fact, I don’t think people who haven’t grown with me during this time would even recognize the woman I am now, and I LOVE that. While I know I’m in a unique position to do what I want because I have no children, I truly hope everyone is able to experience this mental freedom in some capacity. Know that you owe nothing to anyone and you’re capable of doing impossible things, so don’t be scared to walk away from unhappiness. Life is far too short for anything else.