I recently watched Little Women – the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder. It reminded me how much I loved the novel and the movie – it was adapted really well. The protagonist, Josephine ‘Jo’ March, is a woman before her time. The story takes place in the 1860 time-frame. So think Civil War times, women are to be seen not heard and certainly not able to be independent. Jo wants to push back on this as much as she can. She wants to tell the stories that swirl around in her head and also make the world a better place. She hates all of the pomp and circumstance of the time – what a girl should or shouldn’t do, how a girl should dress and act. She is raised with 3 sisters and an amazing mother – her father is away at war through most of the story. Marmie, her mother, lets Jo and her sisters express themselves as they wish – tussling about in the yard, having plays in the attic, going to school. Jo blazed a path and was not ashamed to go after what she wanted.
I was raised around women that were generous and kind. I loved them with everything I had, but I never wanted to be them. I never pictured myself as them – stay at home mom, doing laundry, cooking dinner every night. Let me say there is NOTHING wrong with that. I just never dreamed that life for myself, I would be terrible at it. I admire the ones that can be in this role and rock it, just like the women in my life did. It just wasn’t for me, it still isn’t. Their roles also involved being the leader of the family, the one keeping it all together and running, fixing the broken, the one everyone relied on for advice and comfort. I couldn’t be that for myself, let alone trying to imagine being that for other people. I saw how important they were to everyone around them after two of the three passed away. The crumble of the family structures. The divides. No more family holidays. Gone with them. That is probably why I never dreamed to be just like them, parts? Certainly, but have everyone depend on you? That is an amount of pressure I couldn’t withstand. This pushed me in a different direction, towards a different goal.
My goal was to be fiercely independent and help others as much as I could along the way, a little like Jo. I would not need to rely on anyone for my basic needs. I wanted to be able to support myself, but also do most of what I wanted, when I wanted. I promised myself I would not get married until I had purchased a car on my own and owned or house or could. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be me. So I set out to do just that, one step at a time. What I didn’t realize then is how many steps it would take, but also I didn’t realize the change and growth that comes with each stage of life. Each stage of life brings different lessons, good and bad experiences, change, hopefully growth, and wants and needs begin to evolve as well. My goal to be independent remained throughout, especially after my dad passed away. The drive to reach this goal was stronger than ever. For both my stability, but also the need to help others grew with him leaving the way he did. So suddenly. Seemingly out of the blue. I found out in that moment how truly short life is and that just because I have a goal to reach does not mean that I have to ignore life happening around me.
Watching Little Women reminded me of that girl that was hell bent on not needing anyone. I actually chuckled and related more to Jo’s sister, Amy in that moment. Amy is the baby and quite dramatic at times. I was naive to think that I would be able to accomplish such a goal without others. There is no way, that I am aware of, to become independent without the help and support of others. If I sat and tried to make of list of the people in my life that have helped get me to where I am today, or made an impact on me – whether they know or not, we would be here for days. I fully believe that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. They can have a large or small impact, but each leave you with a lesson or something you needed.
I am still fiercely independent, but I have softened a little as I age. I will let people know when I can’t add anything more to my plate. Better is that I have even learned to ask for help. To understand and know that I can, but I don’t have to do it on my own. I couldn’t imagine having to grow up during the times with Jo March. I’m thankful to have many more “freedoms” than she would have been able to experience. Not to mention the corsets! I would have fainted from being so constricted. Definitely a plus on the change in fashion from the Civil War era until now. I also am fully aware of the sacrifices the women in my life made so that I could be me. So that I could walk on my “own” for a while.
I’m taking what the three main ladies, as well as all of the other females in my life, have taught me and putting them into practice. I have 3 nieces now! I love each of them and want to be my best for them. I want to be the strong role model, but also the one they come to for anything – questions, laughs, driving lessons (AGM), to bitch about their parents, whatever they may need. I want to be the one they go to. I want to be their support – to show them they can chase any dream or goal and achieve it – just like I had. Just like I still do with the wickedly amazing women in my life. I’ve lost a few along the way, but I have also be extremely blessed to add a few as well. I treasure the relationship that I have with each of them. I’m still learning each and every day, I hope I continue for the rest of my life to learn something new each day – I’ve learned a lot about myself lately. I am realizing that I am finally that strong, independent woman I always wanted to be growing up. I have achieved this goal, and that is exciting. But this isn’t over, not yet. I’m going to extend this goal. I’m going to keep adding to it and racing to achieve it again. I’m still figuring out how that will look exactly in this stage of my life, but I’m excited to see what happens next……..