• Josh Newis Smith

Dishonesty’s Child: Is Being An 'Independent Wo/Man' Unobtainable?

Years on from our 'Destiny’s Child conditioning' are we still throwing our hands up for independence? Or has the bubble well and truly burst in our late twenties?

We were sold the Bootylicous dream of being an independent “wo/man” when being a solo player was the hot thing to serve up in popular culture. But years on reality has hit, validation has crept in, the ovaries are ticking and we now live in a social media pressurised age where even Emma - the annoying AF girl from school - has even managed to put a ring on it and rub our faces in it. What’s more she’s bloody pregnant too. We get it Emma. Plus part of us feels like Emma has let us down whilst we are trying to break any ceilings in any given situation.

Where did we go wrong we question. Should we have stuck with THAT guy who was husband material but couldn’t spell oral let alone practice it? Were we too busy building our careers until the small hours of the night and sidelining love interests in the name of a promotion? Or, more likely, were we too blind drunk on Jaeger Bombs to know our serendipitous husband was actually judging us for flashing on the dance floor? It could just be one of these or the whole list, but the results are the same: being independent induces an internal and external conflict. Not giving one single f**k about being a ‘solo sister’ comes at a price, too.

Look at Cardi B, the holding no punches singer felt she had to hide her pregnancy for the sake of her debut album. After Cardi revealed she was expecting her first child the Internet tore into her by saying nursing a baby and a career just isn’t possible. Attacking a woman at a time when we are meant to be supporting women or men who stand up for what is right, or what they believe in, shouldn’t be a reality in 2018. But it is.

I use the term “wo/man” in this headline, too, because this is actually a genderless issue. Looking around my friends who are knocking on the door of thirty there is a general trend: sheer panic regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. If they aren’t quite at the right place in their career, they aren’t at the right place in their personal lives either.

We were conditioned by main stream media to think we can have it all but even the women and men ahead of us show that possessing everything: fabulous AF friends, a career to outshine others, a partner in crime and children is highly costly. Something always has to give. First of all it’s the passive aggressive Whatsapp with a pal who you have had to postpone for the twentieth time because something far more shiny and work related has cropped up. Then it moves onto the person you are seeing – who you have gone out of your way to inconveniently slot into your life – throwing passive aggressive jealousy your way. Despite observing our elders dealing with this a couple of desks away every single day as their child doesn’t want to go to nursery and their husband hasn’t serviced their needs this millennium, we still want to believe we can have it all. It’s practically a god-given right, right?

We still “want it all” mainly because a) in 2018 why the hell shouldn’t we and b) the single girl or guy is seen as an ‘other.’ How many times have you been judged by people in legally sanctified relationships? Or questioned by that elderly relative, “dear when are you going to find someone nice to settle down with?” We are sorry but not sorry that “nice” doesn’t quite get the juices flowing.

Personally I only exclusively surround myself with fiercely powerful people who know themselves. But even though those my age can be in tune with their inner being, they can’t work out why after X number of Tinder dates and a few one-night stands from Infernos, they can’t quite make someone stick. When you hit your late twenties it’s highly likely that the next person you commit to will be your partner for “life” or the parent to your child. That is heavy sh*t to reconcile with and creates a whole other crisis. It’s like twenty giraffes fighting for the last drop of water at the watering hole, in one seriously dry and secluded desert.

Being the independent person we want to be is at odds with what many seek out in a partner, too. Boys for instance think they need a partner like their mother, a woman from a generation where the home came first for instance. My girl pal, Kelly waded in on the matter when I brought up this line of questioning, “men talk this game of finding a successful or independent woman attractive but they don’t like the reality of it. They need to feel like they are bringing something to the party I can’t. So they struggle over where they fit as they find it emasculating.”

We are all - regardless of gender again it seems - fearful of independent people and that is down to the thirst for validation. Speaking to one of the strongest gals I know about this subject of validation she remarked, “you only really need a man for sex but that need to have someone tell you how bloody great you are creeps in. Plus having someone who needs you not only romantically but personally is desirable.” Isn’t having a gang of independent AF friends around us, providing us with guidance one Whatsapp at a time enough validation? Apparently not … pals don’t flick your bean, after all.

So that makes us thirsty independent “wo/men” but we don’t want to settle. However the person we are dating, despite all their flaws (possibly including bad table manners), could be our last straw or we are turning dating apps into our number one hobby. Apps have become a cultural phenomenon that only fuels the notion that people are disposable, as we independent folk think there is always a better person one swipe away. Plus let’s be honest if you meet someone at a bar – a social sphere where pals remain in their packs all night long – you are having a serious throwback moment. Clubs are not for hooking up, your phones are.

The inner turmoil and questioning doesn’t stop there. Why would we want to sacrifice the independence we have worked so hard to built when some people around us are in relationships past their sell by date and are suffocated by their partners? What’s the point in giving up independence for desperation? Everyone I know has always had to sacrifice something for a relationship and others eventually impinge on the parameters of our personal independence.

That goes directly against our Destiny’s conditioning, as my girl pal numero uno agrees, “in dating I struggle to accept or indicate the desire for help or chivalry or traditional behaviours which I know I want from a man. But I am in the habit of handling stuff on my own and I find it hard accepting that openly. My biggest fear is losing my independence after having it for so long!” But we still want that man to make us happy…

Despite identifying as an independent “wo/man” myself I struggle with the term and what being that person entails. After all being so “solo” has resulted in many a man throwing his toys out of the pram when I can’t give them attention 24/7 or left them trying to seek control with any underhand bitchy move they can think of. But at this stage in my life the lesbians have left town to make babies in the suburbs and it feels like things are getting a little drastic. I have always loved being my own ranger but does the idea of being on shelf once my prime is all but a distant memory and the ex I thought wasn’t good enough is now married with kids, bother me? HELL YES!

As a very positive person I hate the notion that being fully independent within society’s frameworks - be it a relationship or the work place – actually might be impossible. However the questions and fleeting turmoil always lead to one conclusion: something has got to give and at times independence might be it. That is not on the Destiny’s Child manifesto.

Do YOU think being an independent "wo/man" could ever be a reality? Let me know what you think…

© 2018 by Josh Newis Smith