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EDUCATED: TARA WESTOVER IN CONVERSATION WITH HADLEY FREEMAN

Tara Westover

Author

What does it mean to say a person is independent? There are many types of independence – economic, intellectual, social – and many types of independent people (and many people who are independent in one way are not in others). Economic independence is gained by landing a lucrative job or by managing your money sensibly. Intellectual independence is a little more challenging, but you can acquire some measure of it by engaging with the world’s knowledge in an effort to choose your own thoughts and perspective.

Social and emotional independence are perhaps the hardest of all because it is not obvious that they are desirable. Do we want to be socially independent? How is that different from being cut off? Isolated?

I argue it is different. Being emotionally independent does not mean one cannot have meaningful relationships or obligations as a result of those relationships. Rather, it requires that one answer this question: where is the line between what I owe to others and what I owe to myself? That line has to be found in every type of relationship. What do I owe to my boss, and my colleagues and what do I owe to myself? What do I owe to my children? My parents? My friends? For a lot of people, the answer is: ‘Whatever they ask for’. That was my answer for many years, in particular with regards to my family. What did I owe my parents? Whatever they asked for. Until what they asked for was not something I could give them.

The problem with failing to enforce your boundaries with people is that you aren’t just choosing them. You are failing to choose yourself. You aren’t so much empathising with others as you are failing to empathise with yourself, to recognise your own needs as legitimate. All human relationships are made stronger by healthy boundaries. In the end, independence reveals itself as the means by which we are able to choose the terms of our interdependence.

EDUCATED: TARA WESTOVER IN CONVERSATION WITH HADLEY FREEMAN

11AM - NOON

SAT 20 OCT