Dependence, Reimagined

What’s bothering you right now?

If you’re like me, there’s probably a few recurring complaints that make their way through your mind all the time. Life’s inconveniences seem to come back again and again, stopping you from living out your days the way you want to.

Traffic. Co-workers who are always late. A broken dishwasher. Homework that you have to finish by tomorrow but don’t understand. If only, you lament, I didn’t have to deal with this stuff (except you rarely call it “stuff”) all the time. I’d be so much happier, so much more productive.

When I moved into an off-campus house this year, I was so focused on what the place didn’t have. Every time it came time to do laundry, I stressed about where I’d do it next. The same came for the grocery store — without a car to get to Kroger, I felt stuck. I complained, to myself and to others, about these annoyances. I played an award winning performance of The Victim. All my little inconveniences were adding up and draining me, I reckoned, of really valuable time.

One day, when I was lazily flipping through Instagram stories instead of doing what I ought to have been doing, someone challenged all that. One of my favorite actors posted a video of himself stuck in a traffic jam, at a dead stop. And he had an ear-to-ear smile on his face. He told the camera how happy he was to have a few moments to just sit – nowhere to be, no one to please. What things in your life, he asked, are supposedly inconvenient? Have you ever thought about what good things they might bring to your life?

I gulped. My complaints suddenly seemed so invalid. Who was I to be so negative?

Because I don’t have a washer and dryer, I get a guaranteed hour every couple weeks to hang out with one of my best friends while my laundry gets done at her place.

Because I don’t have a car, I get to ride with friends for two hours when we go back home on breaks. I might have spent that time alone, but instead some of the funniest and most thought provoking, uninterrupted conversations I’ve ever had were on those rides.

Not having a trunk to load my car with at Kroger helps me be accountable for the food I buy and carry home with my own two hands. As a person who legitimately has a “Treat Yo Self” poster on her bedroom wall, this has been very useful.

This semester, nothing about my routine has changed. I still text a friend whenever I need a ride back home to Cleveland, or some help getting to Target, or need to do a load of laundry. But the way I look at it has.

I used to hate the dependence I felt whenever I needed to ask for help. But the thing is, not being 100% independent is just an opportunity to get a little closer to the people in your life. You’ve got to thank them for it, but odds are they want to help you out when they can. Let them. It means a chance to be social even while doing the most mundane things. It means more conversations, more laughs, that you get to have with people who are important to you. And for that, I have zero complaints.

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