Crowned with Independence
By: Nikki Michelle Charnstrom
Let’s begin with a bit of self-evaluation. Would you consider yourself to be independent or dependent? If you aren’t sure or you’re thinking maybe you fall somewhere in the middle, that’s OK. Perhaps you answered that question without hesitation, knowing your personality type full well. It took me years to nurture a spirit of independence, so feeling on the fence about the subject is totally normal. We all develop at different speeds and walk very different paths in life, so only time can truly tell.
I haven’t always worn a crown of independence. In fact, I used to grow anxious at the thought of being alone. While I still very much believe in the need for family and friends, I have come to enjoy being my own favorite person. However, finding my crown was a journey — and not an easy one.
When I was a freshman in college, I grew very dependent. To be more specific, I grew too comfortable spending my time with my now ex-boyfriend. During the eight months we were dating, I didn’t realize how much of myself I had let go. Our relationship consumed almost all of my time and energy. Rather than filling my freshman year with exciting things on campus or focusing on my studies, I sought after fulfillment in him and what he could give me.
I wasn’t dead serious about school because he didn’t encourage me to pursue my future. He had dropped out of college because it “wasn’t for him.” So, yeah — how could someone who didn’t believe in education cheer on someone who does? Although I still persisted and maintained good grades, my overall freshman experience suffered. Ultimately, it was my lack of independence that hindered my full potential as both a student and a young woman.
When he broke up with me, I leaned into Jesus — and hard. Slowly, He replenished my spirit as I pressed into His Word. I came to learn the only person we should ever be dependent on is Jesus. Once I let go of my hurt and gave Him my attention, it’s as if He crowned me with independence. Ever since then, my sophomore year, I have chased after ME and the dreams I want to accomplish. While I don’t recall ever saying it out loud, I made a promise to myself to never let my wants and needs drown in the pursuit of another.
My girls, if you’re afraid to step out in independence, let me be completely honest with you — it was by far the greatest gift I could have ever given myself. Independence might sound intimidating and lonely, but I promise you it’s so rewarding. You come to appreciate yourself in a way you’ve never known before. You learn to laugh at your quirks and sometimes you’ll even talk to yourself in the mirror (believe me, that’s not crazy). The idea of eating lunch alone at a peaceful café will actually excite you, not drive you into an anxious frenzy. It’s all about getting to know you and loving you. A form of self-care is allowing yourself to be alone and feeling all of its beautiful results.
Finding the courage to wear a crown of independence if you’ve never done so can feel overwhelming. I’m here to tell you that it’s going to be OK and guess what? You’re going to survive. Even if it's just for a day, I challenge you to remove your crown of dependence. Take yourself out on a little date and enjoy your company. Pay a visit to the library, pick up a new book, grab lunch at your favorite place, and find a cozy place to read. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, take a stroll around downtown, interact with other locals, and buy yourself something pretty. My personal favorite? Hop in your car, take a drive to where you feel closest to nature, and soak up the sun.
Most importantly, on your journey to finding independence, make sure to show yourself grace. If you can only stand one day by yourself per week, then that’s amazing. Don’t push yourself. Only handle it in a way that makes you most comfortable — and be OK with it! Listen to yourself and respect her. I promise, the more you get to know her, the more you’ll love spending time with her — and only her.
Nikki is the owner and founder of Crowned Chics. She lives in the warm desert of Phoenix, Arizona with her beloved family. If she's not ferociously clanking away on her typewriter, she's behind the camera capturing moments for her business Charnstrom Captures Photography.