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“Independence or Defiance?”

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e. e. cummings

My child walks a very thin line of being independent and being defiant. Ever since she was little, she always had a very strong will and independent streak about her. She has always been a leader when it came to standing up for her own ideas and interests. She has never followed the crowd, and stood strong when it came to being herself.

This wasn’t the first time I had heard her described as strong willed. Now where as some people might consider this a nice way of saying she isn’t following directions at school, and I should reprimand her, I take it as a compliment. Though it doesn’t make it any easier on her teachers, I feel that her independence and confidence in herself is an important aspect of her personality that I do not want to stifle.

I understand it would be easy for most schoolteachers if every child was obedient and subservient to their every wish. This make for great little minions now and later in life, doesn’t it? Perfectly groomed children to listen, follow all directions and serve their bosses, hardly make history though. Now I do believe in respect and think that she should be respectful, and I believe that she is. However when someone describes her as strong-willed, as if it were a bad thing I just have to laugh to myself and continue nurturing that part of her in hopes she remains herself in a world that fights day and night to make her someone else.

Both myself and my wife have been considered strong-willed our entire lives. For years and years our independent nature, and bits of defiance were punished and looked down upon. It’s those very same qualities that have led my wife and I to a very successful and happy marriage and a life that many people could only dream for. We have been leaders, entrepreneurs, and bosses of our own lives with to masters to ask permission from. It was our strong wills that crafted our dreams and didn’t allow us to settle for any less than we deserve.

I have heard people say it’s important to play by the rules, and that it’s important to play the game, so to speak. I came from a different culture. Growing up in punk rock communities where questioning past ideals and sticking your middle finger up to the man were the ideal, the norm. Those ideals I am proud to pass on to my daughter in hopes that she doesn’t follow the crowd and builds the life that she dreams of, whatever it may be. So far so good.

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