Main content

How Do You Learn Independence?

You learn independence at all stages of life. From when you're a child and you learn to tie your shoes and cross the road, to cooking, washing and managing money - anything that enables you to function in society is building your independence. Dr Radha explores the idea of independence.

Learning and Growing

Independence is about thinking and acting according to who you are, without being controlled or influenced by other people. It covers so much of a person’s life in really important areas – things like financial, relationship and career independence are huge markers of who you are as a whole person. Independence will develop over a long period of time, and sometimes without you even realising.

Feeling and being independent is really great, but there’s a balance between rebelling in order to always do exactly what you want, and working out who you want to be and how you want to live your life whilst having healthy, respectful boundaries with those around you. Independence cannot be exactly defined, and you may gain independence in different areas at different stages of your life. A little bit of emotional dependence on family members is very healthy. Ultimately there’s a balance to strike between being independent and still feeling comfortable enough to ask for advice and guidance as you encounter decisions and problems – which will happen throughout your whole life.

Seeking Approval

Being independent in your own mind takes time. Developing confidence in who you are and what you stand for will help you worry less about seeking approval from others, or agreeing with someone because you feel that you should. Try and check in with how you feel about a situation or decision before you go ahead – are you sacrificing who you are or what you want for the sake of someone else’s opinion? There are ways of doing this without losing the respect of others – it’s natural to want approval because we all want to feel safe and supported.

Many 'firsts' on the road to independence, like going on holiday without your parents, moving out or going to university, can be quite daunting. But if you can be brave and take the leap, lots of these decisions will leave you feeling liberated and accomplished.

We asked you for your thoughts on independence and what it means. Join in the conversation over on our forum at The Student Room.