Independence. Our July topic is a great theme for any piece of writing, fiction or non-fiction. Without it, our actions aren’t our own. And it’s the journey’s end in all coming-of-age stories. Big stuff. Important stuff. And scary stuff, at times.
It’s interesting to think of myself when initially experiencing independence. For me, college was the first truly liberating experience. And while admittedly heady and exhilarating, it was, I’ll admit, overwhelming, too.
I have a late November birthday, and Michigan has a December 1st cutoff for kindergarten. I, therefore, went away to college at seventeen. And I was a young seventeen. Shy. Naïve. Self-conscious. And somewhat untethered.
My father had passed away eighteen months prior. Money had always been the wolf at our door, but his death set the entire pack upon us. That’s how it felt, at any rate.
Though I was eligible for a monthly Social Security check, it in no way covered tuition and living expenses. Nor was my mother, who was dealing with her own financial and emotional crises, in a position to help. In the span of a single month, I went from barely being able to write a check to finding jobs (yes, plural) to securing a loan and to managing my own finances.
For the record, I’m not soliciting pity here. Many, many people deal with far more frightening situations. I hope, rather, to present the challenges and mixed emotions of independence.
Independence, IMHO, is an earned quality. As a writer AND a mother of a seventeen year old, I try to remember this. It’s a point of personal pride that I worked hard for everything I achieved. And while it’s easy (and necessary, I might add) to pile the obstacles upon my characters, it’s a tough parental juggle. And the balls are still in the air.
Wishing one and all (characters included) their own well earned and sweetly savored self-reliance.