Being Independent Doesn’t Have to Mean Being Alone

Image of Gem holding a cup of tea

When I was younger, I couldn’t comprehend the idea of being fully independent. I needed help from my family pretty much 24/7. Personal care/opening doors/getting food/going out. You name it, I needed it. I was a very happy child (most of the time) and this was my normal.

When I grew older into my teenage years, I started to want to become more independent. I would ask my parents if I could try new things like travelling to school with my friends and getting dropped off at the cinema. I think when I was at this age, it dawned on me that it would be hard to be independent when I grew older.

Independence then to me, meant being “STRONG”, “PRODUCTIVE”, “ACHIEVER”, all of this to be complete on your own because that was independence. And that was the ultimate goal.

After I finished college, I decided I wanted to go to University. I had no idea how this would work but I was determined. No way would I want my mum to help me out (sorry mum, you know I love ya). I wanted to be independent. So, many discussions and form filling with social services, it was decided I would receive ‘Direct Payments’. And I’ve never looked back since. In a nutshell, this means I am able to employ PA’s to assist me with day to day activities. I know I’m very lucky to be able to have the scheme in the first place (I shouldn’t have to feel this way – but the current state of the UK means that not everyone who needs this, receive it too).

It’s been 8 years since I hired my first PA. Over the years I’ve had a total of 16 PAs since I was the age of 18. I don’t really talk about this online a lot, as I like to talk about what I do in life, not how I do it. Being an employer from the age of 18 is weird. So much admin, so much learning about wages and interviews and communicating with people.

As I settled into University, I had my routine down. In my first year I had a team of 3 PAs who shared hours between them. At first it was so strange inviting people I didn’t know into my flat – especially when University was so new too. Asking people to help you with things is a strange one, but now it’s just normal. I’ve met so many lovely people who have become my friends as well as PAs. They get to know your routines, chat about life updates all while doing your day to day chores. Of course sometimes they would also take me to places and events so I could hang out with my friends too – a very important aspect for me. Personal assistants enable me to live the life I want to.

We all need help at times, whether that’s physically, emotionally, logically – the list goes on. Yes, I may need physical help, but I can help others too. Whether that’s talking through problems, organising things or even advising on technology (I do this a lot – don’t I dad?) ha. If I could say one thing to my younger self, it would be – independence doesn’t have to mean being alone and doing it yourself. Even with people helping me out, I am still strong, I am still productive and I am still an achiever.


Ooh, that got deep didn’t it? At the time of writing, this week is Loneliness Awareness Week and this topic has been on my mind for a while now. Do you have people helping you too? Let me know your thoughts on this!

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

The Unfortunate Tales of Being “Recognised”

“Is there not a job for you closer to home?”

Do you want to come to my party? | Access and socialising

5 thoughts on “Being Independent Doesn’t Have to Mean Being Alone

  1. Ami

    My fiancé and my mum take it in turns to care for me. I have had a poor experience with agency carers to the point they had me in tears.ive been told PA’s are completely different to carers. I have debated about looking into having a PA but due to the bad experience I had with the carers, it deters me. Have you had any carers? (Excluding family)

    1. Gem Turner

      Hi Ami, thanks for your comment. Yes, my PAs are my “carers” and I have found this really helpful personally. What I like about this is that you can choose who you employ. I’m not going to pretend there aren’t challenges sometimes, but for me personally – it was the best way to be able to do what I wanted and have the freedom to do so.

      1. Ami

        Thanks for sharing your experience with them. It gives me a glimmer of hope for future decisions 🙂

  2. Shazz

    This has really helped me. I’ve always been fiercely independent but as age and time (not just mine) I’m finding it harder and harder to go out independently.

    1. Gem Turner

      Hey Shazz, I’m glad this helped and I’m sorry you’re finding things harder. Hopefully you’ll be able to adjust to these changes soon and things won’t seem as hard. Sending positive vibes to you!

Leave me a message!

Font Resize