Unpopular Opinion: Independence Is Overrated—Interdependence Is Better

Yeah, I said it. Independence is overrated and at times unrealistic and unattainable. What’s better is interdependence, which is basically just a healthy relationship between people who rely on and can count on one another. Here’s why interdependent women are much happier and successful in life.

  1. Interdependent women simply realize that they need other people. Even Beyoncé herself acknowledges that complete independence isn’t easy. In fact, its actually damn near impossible. Think about it; if you really consider all of the people you need in your life—not just your family, friends, and significant others but your doctor, dentist, postal worker, your stylist, employer or clients, your uber drivers, delivery people, grocery store employees, etc.— you realize that you’re surrounded by literally hundreds of people who help you live the life you live.
  2. Interdependent women are conscious of each other’s time. Once you realize how much we need other people, you start to see the real value of other people’s time. After all, your time is your life. We’re all busy people with myriad responsibilities and commitments, and that makes our time that much more precious. If that’s true for us, it has to be true for other people by default. That means we should extend respect towards other’s who spend their precious time on us. This fosters gratitude within us and exhibits respect for others, and who wouldn’t want a little more of that in their lives?
  3. Interdependent women are aware and appreciative of other people’s effort. Seeing and acknowledging the effort of others is paramount to interdependence. For example, instead of complaining about the coffee shop girl who may have misspelled your name for the fourth time, realize that she’s running the register, quickly serving you, whipping up a mean expresso in record time, and all with a smile on her face—and she may do that for every person she meets during her shift. All of that effort makes a misspelling seem like nothing, doesn’t it?
  4. Interdependent women focus on strengths. Every person is gifted with certain strengths and those strengths, when used properly, allow us to contribute to society overall. For example, I have a very close friend who’s literally one of the easiest people to talk to. She listens intently, she asks questions to make sure she understands, and when she can, she tries to offer solutions. Even when she doesn’t have an answer, she’s always supportive. That’s one her strengths and as her friend, I’ve recognized that strength, affirming her regularly. Interdependent people look at the strengths of other people first and appreciate them.
  5. Conversely, interdependent women respect each other’s weaknesses. Every person is weak in one area or another, and here’s where interdependence really shines. For example, that same close friend I spoke about earlier also has a terrible temper. As an interdependent person, she acknowledges her own temper and I allow her to be flawed and extend her respect because she’s a human being. I’m more patient with her when she gets in her feelings, I give her the room to parse it all out, and when she’s back to stasis, I extend grace. By acknowledging our own weaknesses, we give room for others to have weakness instead of demanding perfection from people who are flawed, just like us.
  6. Interdependent women forgive mistakes. Interdependent people know that mistakes are inevitable in life. Remember that example of the coffee shop girl from above who may have misspelled your name but makes a bomb latte in record time and has great customer service? Her mistake was misspelling your name, and given all of the things she may have done right, it’s a completely forgivable incident. Even more serious transgressions can be forgiven if they were well-intentioned or sincerely apologized for and corrected.
  7. Interdependent women deal with issues directly. Because we need each other, and because we rely on each other’s strengths and respect each other’s weaknesses, we call out mistakes. Just because we are interdependent doesn’t mean that we’re passive about the mistakes that are made. By being direct, we don’t allow concern or resentment to fester. We talk out issues, no matter how difficult. We offer tips on improvement and criticism when necessary.
  8. Interdependent women don’t criticize excessively. Interdependent people acknowledge that there are times when we’re going to need to criticize, but when and how we do it is key. While that coffee shop girl may make mistakes like misspelling your name, berating her about it while sloshing your drink everywhere out of rage isn’t the best way to go about it. Instead, pulling her aside when her line is short just to gently correct the spelling may be a better way to go. Also, add in that you notice that she has amazing customer service and always brightens your morning just for good measure. Criticism is vital to improvement, but interdependent people choose to constructively criticize, acknowledging the mistake while building the other person up, not tearing them apart.

While independence is a cool concept, true independence is practically impossible to achieve. Interdependence is the healthy way to acknowledge that we all need each other and rely on one another. It sees the straights and the weakness forgives the mistakes and is direct but constructive with criticism. Interdependent life is lit. Now I’m waiting on Beyoncé to make a bop about that.

Whitney is a writer, blogger, social media consultant and speaker living in Philadelphia. She drinks too much coffee and has been told she reads too many books.