The Power of Independence

By Anesu Jahura. Anesu, 17, attends the Muizenberg High School in Cape Town, South Africa. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

No man is an island. This famous proverb is an indication of the undeniable truth – we all need each other in some way or another. This reliability on others has led to very few “islands” in the world – there is one big piece of land where everybody is present. We live our whole lives completely relying on others – we expect our parents to spoon-feed us for most of our youth, we depend on our teachers to teach us absolutely everything and we exalt public figures and celebrities to the point where we idolize them. Most people die never having achieved their goals because they believe that they do not have what it takes, or that they have not been given enough opportunities. I am but a teenager, yet already I am better off than many people who have lived past their life expectancy – I have realized the power of independence.

When it comes to arrogance, I was the quintessence. Born intelligent, I never had to put much effort into my work during primary school. I was naughty, rude, got sent outside of class almost every day and still managed to get mostly A’s. When I got to high school, the work became harder, but not much changed. I knew I was quite intelligent, so I didn’t work hard and still managed to get my B aggregate. I wasn’t satisfied though, because even though I knew that I didn’t study too often, I felt bitter towards people who got the higher marks that I thought I deserved. I blamed my teachers for being incompetent, my fellow students for working slowly, and even my own family for not giving me enough support. I didn’t feel as if my friends were loyal, the girls I spoke to liked me for the wrong reasons and I felt as if life wasn’t dealing me the cards I deserved. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I considered myself infallible. I was that “know-it-all” kid that everybody loved to hate – I blamed everyone but myself for not being where I wanted to be in life. During one fateful English period, however, all of this changed. We were receiving our test results, and I had gotten one mark away from 100% – the highest in the class. I was feeling quite jubilant, but no one else shared the same sentiment. Not a single person clapped, congratulated me or showed even the slightest hint of praise. This hit me hard, and before long, I was on the verge of tears. I had never felt so hated in my entire life. That moment hit me so hard that I spent the next 2 weeks in almost complete silence and solitude, reflecting on where it had all gone wrong. I was arrogant, but I was not ignorant… I had to get to the bottom of this. Where did it all fall apart? Why does no one love me like they’re supposed to? Why does no one support my intellectual ability? Why do I feel such hatred from my own peers? All these thoughts ran laps around my head… then it hit me. In all of the times that people had acted negatively toward me, treated me unfairly, or made me feel unloved, I contributed to it. I was apathetic, I wasn’t supportive enough and I didn’t show people that they were valued. I was also simply not putting enough effort into anything. I was tired of living that kind of life, and something had to change. I realised that I didn’t have the power to change other people, so I decided to change myself… it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

From that day onwards, I lived with one goal in mind – I had to change my life. I was tired of accepting that things were the way that they were, and decided to start making the life I wanted come to fruition. I set aside 3 hours every day to study, I tried my best to compliment someone at least once a day and I tried showing the people that I loved how much they meant to me. When everybody had their hands up in class, eager to get an explanation from the teacher, and robotically took down notes, I went home, worked through the questions myself and only ironed out the things I didn’t understand the next day with my teacher. I stopped blaming everybody else for my problems and decided to work on my own faults. As I did this, I realised that it made it harder to complain about the things I couldn’t control because I was always busy focusing on the things I could do myself to improve my life. I stopped thinking that life was always against me, I stopped having unfair expectations of other people, and I even stopped consulting my tutor. Everything I achieved was largely because of my own work that I did to improve my life. Of course, I had the help and support of my friends and family, but this was just the final piece to the puzzle. I became independent, and inevitably, my life changed for the better.

I am now an all-A student and I am getting better by the day. I have a great relationship with my family and they accept the kind of person that I am. I also have a few close friends who I can say that I fully trust, although they are not many (finding people to trust is still hard!).  I am in a good place, and it’s all thanks to being able to do things for myself. When I hear of the many people that become despondent because they feel like no one supports them in life, or that they will never become anything, I wish that I could have a conversation with them. If I could, I would tell them my life story, and everything that I have learnt. It’s important to reiterate that it’s impossible to live a fully independent life; one is going to have to rely on others from time to time. However, the day people start realizing that the key to a better life starts with themselves is the day that we start creating a happier and more satisfied society. The power to change our lives is in our own hands, and it’s the power of independence.

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