Being independent can bring insight into what life’s future holds

Brady C. Mallory

Brady C. Mallory

Somewhere between midnight and 3 a.m., I was indulging in a symphony of cherished stillness accompanied by the blue light of the TV screen when I heard something that made me somewhat indignant. One of the thousands of dating sites informed me that it could find my match in six weeks. It takes me at least that much time to finish a “Dora the Explorer” coloring book, and that is only if I have a burst of ambition and the fervent need to prove myself.

Where, I ask you, is the Web site that helps you meet and define yourself? I often think with the stresses of conventional American expectations, we forget that it is okay to take this time in our young lives to figure out our own affinities. A very wise friend of mine uses the phrase, “life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.” It scares me that so many people lose themselves in the dusty recesses of everyday.

Perhaps my sense of “in-your-face” independence dates back to my teen years and childhood. I have violent flashbacks to my tenure as a four-year-old when my family journeyed to Florida. The only thing I can concretely remember is sightseeing while securely fastened in a child leash and harness. I assume this was a precaution due to the high numbers of geriatrics that populate Florida. My mother, who is my favorite person in the world, has three vices in life: her children, Coca-Cola and Virginia Slims. That leash was her way of keeping me safe, and through that, coupled with everything she taught me, I now have a very valuable sense of security. She and my father were keen on allowing me to make my own decisions, which is why I never had a curfew. I think that early sense of freedom is why I cannot fathom everyone’s need to “Pam Anderson,” or couple haphazardly, their way through life.

It is a different case when we give up our autonomy for monetary gain or convenience; both of which I respect immensely. For example, while in L.A. I lost my friends and had to make a tough decision about how I was going to get back to my temporary pad that evening. Luckily, my charisma had allowed me to meet a group of strangers who were my best friends for those few hours. Since I had been seemingly abandoned, I decided to get a ride with this exciting, nouveau posse to wherever it was that they were going. True, you might think that waking up and thinking, “Where am I?” is dangerous, but I say that saving $50 on cab fare is fiscally responsible. Plus, I was only in the Valley which is a mere 50 minutes from my digs in West LA. My point is … well, in there somewhere, and if you cannot find it, that is your cross to bear.

Beyond the aforementioned tangent, this is the time to take chances, live for yourself, make mistakes and wake up in unfamiliar residences smelling of In-N-Out Burger and tequila. I am not advising recklessness, which is silly and reckless.

Some people spend years, never mind decades, to find their match, and sometimes that match burns out. Sometimes we have to learn how to depend on ourselves before relying on others. In a society that negates instant gratification as too slow, we have forgotten how to spend time with ourselves and enjoy the beauty of driving alone on a breezy summer night with no destination.

The sun is setting on my college years, and I think I have met the man I was meant to be. That, as with anything worth while, certainly took much longer than six weeks.