I’ve been told to my face by nosy parkers that I am too independent – Too Independent? What does that really mean? I also don’t understand why the words ‘independent woman’ have been laden with negative connotations in today’s times, when in fact I find this is a very positive and empowering term.

I think the common misconception people have when we say that “she’s an independent woman” is that she is a feminist or that she is someone who doesn’t need a man in her life. This for me is nothing but a mere misconception. I have studied feminism in great detail and I have found out that the two are different from each other – independence doesn’t necessarily include feminism; one can be independent even without being a die-hard feminist. Being independent doesn’t mean having a vendetta to make the world free from men or to overturn the rule of men. Herein lies the biggest mistaken belief.

So when I say I’m an independent woman, I’m not claiming that I can live alone in this world. I would be a hypocrite if I said that I don’t need people in my life. Being an independent woman means being able to express yourself in whatever way that you like, and having the capacity to do the things that you want to do without forcing yourself to fit into a standard female stereotype.

You can act the way that you want to act in order to express your innermost feelings without trying to look submissive, shy, or forcing any other trait which women are expected to have – simply because of being a woman.

Being independent means having the confidence to make your own decisions and choices, having the courage and strength to voice out your own thoughts and opinions, having the finances to buy whatever you want (without needing the credit card of your man/family members). It means being strong and secure in your own person.

To be a woman who is strong, determined and independent at the same time is a very powerful combination. Independence is a powerful gift that a woman can give to herself. It can lead her to reach greater heights and achieve higher goals. And at the end of the day, the happiness and contentment that a woman feels by being independent is all that matters.

I think it is extremely important these days to be able to use that right of paying half the bill…to be able to afford the rent and have a roof over your head, to be able to shop for groceries, clothes, whatever the hell you feel like with your own money, to be able to take care of yourself etc. But that’s not the only thing it means.

Being an independent woman means you speak your mind - You call people out when they start misbehaving or disrespecting you. You exercise the power of not letting them get away with it. It also entails supporting other women and not viewing them as your competition. I think it is perfectly alright to put yourself first in certain situations as well – it is alright to follow your passions. It is perfectly alright to not care what anyone else has to say about you, because you are proud of yourself for chasing after your wildest dreams. It is also important to be comfortable within the walls of your skin.

Your independence doesn’t depend on your relationship status. It depends on your strength. On your energy. On how much you accomplish in a day. Being a strong, independent girl is harder than it used to be. For many girls, being considered strong and independent is a hard task, particularly in a world where people dismiss you for being independent.

There are many factors that encourage independence thought. High self-esteem however, is the single most distinguishing characteristic of any creative thinker and is often what propels individual thinking, performance and success. Self-confidence can also be generated externally, through the thoughts and comments of other individuals. Whilst this works wonders to boost confidence in your ability it should not be used to replace self-esteem that is personally generated through a belief in your own abilities. All successful independent thinkers therefore have a clear understanding of self-worth.

Persistence, belief, independent self-esteem, confidence, determination and creative awareness are just some of the qualities that an independent woman will bring to the table. These qualities, and others, often enable her to become more innovative in her thinking and will help her create the best opportunities to demonstrate independent thinking in a positive manner.

Women are capable of supporting themselves and their families and are breaking old stereotypes of traditional female roles. Gender discrimination still exists, but 53% more independent women are participating in the workforce than fifty years ago, giving women a louder voice in society. This is an important time for women to embrace their collective and personal power and continue to grow and become stronger. Even if you don't realize it, you have incredible strength and independence as a woman.

Although we still have a long way to go, women have more control today than ever before over their careers, bodies, finances, and lifestyles.

I end here with a personal take: When kids are being raised up by a strong mother, they have an impression set in their minds forever. For young girls, their mother would be the best example and for young boys they would know that a woman is not someone who is second in the society, but an equal!