Friday, January 11, 2008

It's just my personality...

One of my high school friends, Carrie, has her son in preschool with mine. It has been fun to catch up with her after their school gets out as we walk around and try to make our way to the car. She and I were never best friends but we were close through most of the time we were in school together. I have some great memories with both Carrie and her sister.

Yesterday she mentioned that one of our other friends from the good ole' days is getting married. And then she said something that I have been chewing on since: 'I never thought she'd get married. You know, she's just so independent.'

Hum. Now I realize what Carrie meant and what I'm chewing over are two very different things. I walked away, though not offended, challenged by the notion that I might not be considered independent. In fact, being labeled as dependent for any reason, but let alone because I chose to marry someone I adored. I realize, again, that this was not Carrie's implication...but is it society's?

Our friend, we'll call her Marie, was the one in high school to be incredibly selective about boys, rather than boy crazy. Rather than head to every dance or party on the weekends, she was selective about how she spent her time. She still works for the same company that she did in high school. More importantly she was (or at least seemed) comfortable with herself and in high school, well that's like the Holy Grail.

Hearing Carrie say this has really challenged my notion of independence. Was I not independent because I always knew I was the marrying kind? I have always thought of myself as an independent person, but is that really true?

What is independence in a person?

Is it based off of romantic relationships? In high school I dated the same guy off and on from the time I was 15 until early college. We broke up several times but it was usually because I wanted to date someone else. And I rarely wasn't dating someone. I am not saying this to sound proud - trust me, some of the 'men' I dated are not ones to be proud of. Regardless I was never long without a love interest or a boyfriend. Is this dependence?

Is it based off a person's awareness of his or herself? And if so, how do you define that? At various times in each phase of my life (high school, early 20's, now) I have felt very aware of myself and very comfortable with myself. Something usually happens in each phase of life that shakes that awareness up, both positive and negative, and forces me to reevaluate myself.

This question I find myself thinking about was then further challenged last night when my cute cousin Ann stopped by. We got talking about family dynamics, in particular, 'yapping'. Ann recently returned from serving an LDS mission and is staying at home until school starts at the end of this month. She got home in October - which as a young adult means a long time back with the 'rents. She commented that she forgot how much 'yapping' occurs in her house. Which led us to discuss who in our family 'yaps' the most.

Who won doesn't matter - oh ok, it's Ann's mom. My ultra-white-personality Mom made the comment that it was hard to make 'yapping' sound like a negative when, for my aunt, it is part of her energy. Like most extroverts my Aunt gets some serious energy from people. In fact she gets more energy from interactions with other people than anyone I know - except for the pre-mommy me. Pre-kids I had a greater need to be fed energy by people through interaction and conversation.

So...playing into my earlier question of what is independence - can only an introvert be independent?

This post has been rather convoluted and random which mirrors my thoughts about the subject the last 24 hours.

I'm wondering for my blogger friends and family out there - are you independent? If so, what are the criteria that you measure your independence by? What about other people? How do you determine, from the outside looking in, whether someone is independent? Does marriage change your feelings? Does having children change your criteria?

And in case you are wondering, I am an ENFX (a mix between J&P). If you have never done the Meyers/Briggs personality test - google it and find yourself out. Check and see how closely you feel it resembles your personality. I love (love, love, love!) personality testing!!

Discuss amongst yourselves....


Diana said...

I am ISTJ (distinctively expressed introvert, slightly expressed sensing personality, distinctly expressed thinking personality, moderately expressed judging personality). Hmm. I judge independence by my ability to take care of myself in different senses of the word -- I consider myself independent because, if needed, I can survive on my own means, my own character. I think being in a relationship can be a sign of dependence -- depending on the nature of the relationship. However, an independent individual in a relationship, in my opinion, is one who is not defined by his/her significant other -- s/he has interests outside that person, happiness does not entirely depend on that person, but the independent person has picked a person and forged a relationship that promotes the identity and happiness of both partners. I'm not ready at this point to even consider myself ready for that kind of independence, but I can take care of myself and create my own happiness, so I also consider myself independent. I'm rambling! Haha.

Pedro said...

I don't think the definition of "independent" with which we're all familiar has much of anything to do with marriage. Try a simple exercise to see if it helps you out:

Think back to all the people you've met or know that you feel are independent - marital status aside. What are the things you feel make them independent? Their relationships? Hobbies? Affiliations? Favorite color? Time management? Tastes in food? I think there are lots of things out there that could potentially help to define somebody as independent.

One observation could be that Carrie's feelings about marriage conflict with her understanding or personal grasp of what "independent" means. You could read into how her marriage might be, but that's probably either taking things too far, or hitting too close to home.

Can only an introvert be independent? Nah. I don't think introversion and extroversion have much to do with personal independence—going back to what defines independence in my mind.

I also don't think people who aren't "independent" are "dependent." I'm ok with neutral ground in there. In addition, although I think personality tests are interesting, they don't define who I am. Maybe that's just my personality to feel that way about them. I've taken far too many to remember all my results, but here are a few… Like Diana, an ISTJ, a near three-way tie (yet in order) blue-white-yellow, and for strengths based management (my current employer's thing) my top five are Learner, Command, Ideation, Arranger, Relator. More than you wanted to know, but oh well.

Terina said...

was there any question who talked the most in your family???

i'm not sure about the independence thing. i don't think that being married takes away from our independence. sometimes it gives us more.... but it's late, and i know i'm not thinking terribly clear....

BallerinaGurl said...

Great topic to discuss Shelly! For me I believe being independant is the ability to think for oneself as well as sustain your own personal interests and make and carry out goals seperate from a husband or friends or networks. Of course a lot of our goals and likes include that of our spouses (for those of us married) I could not imagine NOT having that in common with the man I share my life with. However, I also keep my own interests running and take time out and travel for myself. One example of this is that for my Birthday every year I take a trip somewhere fun! I try and invite interesting people and best friends....sometimes both together and sometimes not. I most always invite at least 2 people whom I don't know well and have even been so bold to invite a few bloggers. Funny that sounds mental but one of them has turned out to be one of my best friends so you never know! Just a word of advice on that one is to wait a few years to make sure you really know them LOL!

So anyway my point really being that I think if you hold your own and don't loose sight of what makes YOU happy and things YOU like (without the compromise) then you can take time out to enjoy them by yourself or invite others to share in that joy, even if it is your spouse. I am always seeking new and exciting experiences as well as learning for myself. I encourage my children to do this and make sure they have alone time every day to explore their imaginations and find out what makes them unique.

Hope that lends some insight to your own personal quest!


MY word verification is:

tbgvjcw= That Bennion girl's vivacious juices couldn't wait

Terina said...

i have been thinking about this more, and i would rather be around people that are good team players. not that they do what other people want them to do, but those that can compromise and work with people. i like to think of myself as indepedent, but i also know that i am better as a team player. not sure why. if i have to, i can do things myself without anyone else. but the simple fact that i'm married does not take away any of this. i think that was pretty much proved when i drove to CA by myself. it would have been nice to have someone else there to help drive, but i knew that i could do it. (and of course i hate it when men tell me that i can't do something simply because i'm a girl or a wife and have kids with me.....that REALLY gets me upset).

Ms. Liz said...

I think that the definition of independent is as subjective as the mouths that speak it. Some people think it means having value or meaning independent of an outside force or stimulus, some think it means simply not caring what other people think, some people think it means being self sufficient. I think you can be logistically independent but emotionally dependent or vice versa. I think society sometimes lables "independent" people as "not the marrying kind" because they appear not to need anyone else complete who they are or be happy, therefore implying that only incomplete or needy people are the ones that marry. I think independent (ie self sufficient) people who care about other people are the healthiest candidates for marriage. If you're too dependent relationships usually canker.

I consider myself independent and I think thats a good and bad thing. Good that I know what I'm made of and where I'm going and can get there on my own wits, but bad that it sometimes puts off good people who aren't as assured of themselves. I'm and ENFJ so people and relationships are intimately important to me as well, so its a bit of a double edged sword. I dunno -