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Little Miss Independent

Posted on May 10, 2020 | No Comments on Little Miss Independent

Situation: A mother, a father, the children, and their children’s children, all living under the same roof. This is a common Filipino household.

But in the digital age of touch screens and video calls, this concept of family tradition has experienced a shift as young adults are now daring to venture out into independent life—single and free—much like those in the western cultures and seen in the movies.

With the shift, most are struggling in the dark or just left clueless: How is life, really, as an independent, young Filipina in the modern age?

An old friend, rediscovered
Leiko has been my classmate since high school and a friendly (or at times harsh)competitor in every school activity. We were friends, yet rivals. Or that’s what I think we were. Years after, communication waned—until a rumor about an old friend reached my ears.

She ran away from home and now lives on her own.

With only her cell phone number in hand, I invited her for an interview to uncover a personal mystery and a story worth sharing. Growing up under an old-fashioned, strict Filipino family where anything and everything unrelated to academics is taboo, Leiko had always felt caged. She tried her best to please her parents. But with her full bloom in ex-tracurricular activities stunted in high school and being stripped of the liberty to choose a degree in college, she knew that that wasn’t who she was. She knew she had to leave. She
had had enough.

And with that, for weeks, the deed was done—discreet and precise.

Upon finding an apartment, each day she went to school she wrestled with a bulky bag filled with clothes and necessities so she could drop them off there and gradually transition to her soon-to-be new home. On the day of the big escape, she left home for school, sent a goodbye text message to her family, never to return home at the end of the day.

The rose and its thorns
The life of a bachelorette is boundless. According to Leiko, living independently may have tested her mind and heart, but jumping from one call center agency to another, plus sidelines here and there, the borderless new world led her to discover her full potential and what she really wanted to do with her life. From the parent-imposed chemistry degree, she shifted to what truly interests her.

By day, she hits the books to study the ins and outs of various theories in Political Science, while by night, she earns generously with her photography and video services business, topped all off with gracefully maintaining a one-year relationship. Talk about serious role-juggling and time management.

With full control of her time and decisions, being independent is fun, free, and fabulous. But keep in mind that every rose has its own thorns.

Setting the glamour-aside, the newly acquired independence, says Leiko, aside from being financially straining, is that it can be emotionally difficult as well.

She once caught the flu at her apartment. Things would have been easier if she had a companion, but knowing that no one would attend to her or even go out to fetch medicine, it was then that she suddenly missed her family. But given her situation, she had no choice but to swallow it all in and toughen up.

The expert’s view
Independence from parents cannot be clearly defined in black or white, says Joanne Rachelle Valle, a certified counseling psychologist from the Philippine Association of Psychologists.

Independence is a coin with two sides. It is good for one’s emotional development for the person to stand on their own feet without overreliance from the parents on the slightest tasks. On the other hand, too much independence eventually leads to the disconnection of family ties.

Breaking free from parental authority should not mean absolute disconnection from the family. According to her, with a “blood is thicker than water” principle in most Filipino families, the Filipino culture of close family ties is difficult to stop among the women of today—independent or not.

Although Valle does not laud Leiko’s actions, she cannot blame her actions given the situation. The need to stay true to self and satisfy personal dreams is strong with her, even if it means leaving her parents’ wing.
Asking the parents’ blessing for indepen-dence may be one thing, but Valle cautions those who consider crossing that border.

Things will never be as easy as before. They will be faced with a huge adjustment situation in various aspects of their lives. From paying the bills to washing the dishes to even preparing your office attire the next day, it will be all you and no mommy to rely on.

With independence being a herculean task, Valle explains one should dare to lead a life of independence once both financial sustain-ability and emotional readiness has been reached.

Practicality-wise, a good source of income is essential to sustain everyday necessities and luxuries such as food, paying the apartment rent, and even that red-hot Forever21 dress that’s been tempting your wallet for weeks now. Learn your priorities, the psy-chologist shares, and the key is to be disciplined. Strictly maintain the budget and avoid spending willy-nilly or on unnecessary items.

Emotional readiness may be the trickier part. Valle speaks from her experience that homesickness attacks are inevitable, especially for first timers to live away from the family. However, it doesn’t mean that one should immediately rush home. A phone call or an occasional weekend visit at home may be just the thing to send the loneliness away. Also, she notes that it will take a while before one adjusts to this new lifestyle.

The ‘true’ independence
Getting your own pad and paying the bills may seem like “independent living” enough, but for someone who went through the real deal, Leiko stresses that independence is more than just that.

Even if you have a few friends or relatives you can turn to in time of need, they shouldn’t be your strength’s foundation. Also, she shares that running back to your parents just for going through a rough time is the type of independence that is merely hilaw or immature.

Leiko believes that independence means that whatever struggle you encounter, you alone will support yourself, and only true independence lies when you have made life better with your own blood, sweat, and tears.

“With all that said, how about your parents now?” I asked her.

Smiling faintly, she admits that despite all conflicts, she loves her parents from the bottom of her heart, and one day when time has healed all wounds, Leiko will set foot once again in her parents’ home, successful and educated, hopefully making her parents proud of what she has accomplished.

So with a story of an independent woman shared, do you have what it takes to be independent?

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