A woman stands on rocks, wearing all black against a pale blue, cloudy sky. She looks proudly to the left.

When I was five years old, my first real introduction to independence and equality took place in a small village in Sweden. My father was out working as usual, which left my mother alone trying to balance house chores with triplets roaming free and wreaking havoc on the farm we inhabited at that time.

This specific summer day, my mother took on the task of putting together long wooden boxes to plant flowers in. Being of a different generation, putting objects together with tools was seen as more of a man’s job, but given the circumstances, she had to perform this herself.

My brother was asked to help. Of course, like any other little kid, it was more interesting for him to climb trees and go on adventures. So I ended up helping my mother.

Clearly frustrated from being overworked, my mother told me: “Amanda, when you grow up, make sure that you find a man that will split the work with you and actually cares to get things done. Remember that you are capable of doing everything on your own, but never accept being somebody’s maid”.

Remember that you are capable of doing everything on your own

As we finished up the work and planted the flowers intended for the box, a seed got planted inside of my brain — independence. By the time I reached adolescence, this seed had rooted itself and grown into a very strong force within me.

Being strong on my own was always my number one option because I had seen that it was possible. Being a woman in modern society where all social patterns have changed dramatically within just a few years can be rather tough. We have gone from live conversations to online chatting, from spontaneous chit-chat with strangers to socially-paralyzing dating apps.

There is a constant double-standard of how we should act. A woman should be successful in her line of work, but not too successful because some men get insecure by not being the breadwinner. A woman should not be too loud and expressive because it is too out of the ordinary and she might even be a nutcase weirdo, but if she doesn’t express any opinion, she is seen as timid and boring. Absolutely do not be clingy and emotionally attached, but not too independent or casual about relationships/dating either.

This seed had rooted itself and grown into a very strong force within me

The most confounding scenario for me is the judgment a woman gets for not actively looking for a man to take care of her or so-called “love”. As a woman who knows what she wants to accomplish in life, I have never had a desire to jump from relationship to relationship just because — nevertheless to actively search for the right man. These things should just happen randomly and feel right at that period in your life. I mean, is that not the very essence of true love?

Yet somehow, modern society thinks it is okay to suspect frigidity or even haughtiness just because the first available man that speaks to you isn’t meeting your standards or personality. I even dated men who interpreted my busy schedule/ambition or eventual lack of interest in them as an excuse to cover up aforementioned “frigidity”.

Perhaps my upbringing and observations gave me one of my strongest points by seeing that I can stand on my own two feet. Perhaps it is also a curse. Because being independent also makes you a bit selfish, it’s all about what you want to accomplish: your career, your ambitions, your travels.

Perhaps my upbringing and observations gave me one of my strongest points

I spend my youth living in adventure, travelling and not a single molecule of my being is upset that I am going with the flow and being my own person before I choose to be somebody else’s. Because being happy on your own is a key ingredient to being happy together with another human being.

I wear my independence like a valuable piece of jewellery, openly and proudly. And when I next stumble into somebody that intrigues me, I can be sure that this person sees and likes my real personality.

This article originally appeared in Orenda 3.