Freedom can mean a lot of different things to everyone. Freedom could be as simple as living in a country where the people have say and control in what happens, it could be the ability to do whatever you do so please without constrictions, or even just a feeling that keeps you from being tied down to a certain place. In a way, all of these intertwine with one another, but at the same time differentiate. Most of us like to believe that we are free but then when we think about it more in depth we realize that we are not in fact as free as we thought we were. Why is that? Why do we feel that we can only be ‘free’ to a certain extent? And most importantly, how can we change this?
Last week, my boyfriend and I were asked by a friend if we thought that we were living our lives truly free. My boyfriend and I are both the kind of people who think an answer to a question like this out before responding, and in doing so my mind went crazy. Freedom to me is to be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and to not have anyone or anything tell me that I can’t. Granted I’m talking about everyday life things, nothing harmful to myself or others. For me freedom is also being able to think for yourself, to make your own decisions and to create your own destiny. So, looking back at the journey of my life thus far, I began to realize exactly how ‘free’ I really am.
Growing up, my father had a very clever way of raising me. He would always give me options… now he would pick what I had to choose between but in the end the decision was ultimately up to me. This allowed me a small sense of freedom even at a young age. If I didn’t end up liking the decision that I made, it fell onto my shoulders and was ideally my fault, so I couldn’t be mad at or blame anyone but myself. However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how valuable this way of being raised was for me. Life is a never ending game of options, and your decision determines what happens next for you in your life. No matter how big or how small they may be, they still affect you. Being able to accept responsibility for your actions as well as decisions helps you to grow into a stronger human-being.
When I went to college, I first went into the Business Marketing field with a minor in Dance. After a year of these classes I realized that this was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I am not a desk person, nor do I really enjoy the whole 9-5 work ethic. So I changed my major to Early Childhood Education. After only a day of classes, I realized yet again that I didn’t see my future in this occupation either. I knew deep down that I wanted to major in Dance, but I was afraid that my parents wouldn’t be supportive of my decision. But, I bit the bullet and called both my mother and my father and told them that I was going to change my major again to Dance and that this is what would truly make me happy. To my surprise, they both responded ‘I was surprised that you didn’t just do that in the first place! If that is what is going to make you happy then go for it!’ and four years later, I graduated with a Bachelors Degree of Arts and Dance. Happily.
So now you’re probably thinking ‘okay, nice story… where are you going with this?’ right? Well… being asked this question made me realize that I, myself, am truly free. I don’t have the beliefs of my family members drilled into my head, I don’t have the mindset of how life is supposed to be haunting me every single day. I make every decision for myself and by myself. In talking to many other people, I see that although they claim to be free, you can tell that their parents have raised them in such a way that they have to think about things such as religious preferences or conformation from others in order to move forward. Now, I’m not saying anything bad about religion. In fact if you were brought up this way, then really you don’t know any different and this is not your fault or really your parents fault. But there comes a time in ones life where they have to start thinking or themselves. The parental lock opens and you are free to fly… if you allow yourself.
How do we change this? Well… for starters, sit down with yourself and think about what you truly believe in and what it is in life that YOU truly want. Not what social media tells you to do, but genuinely what you want from this life. Think about your past and the reasons for doing some of the things that you have done and ask yourself ‘Did I do this because I wanted to, or because I was told to?’ When you do this you will be able to see in which area of your life you have lost your sense of freedom and from that point forward, you will be able to gain it back and re take control.
I can truly say that I am 95% free. The 5% that holds me back is something that I am not able to control due to the way the world works and especially how it is in this day and age. Traveling and living in another country is not as easy as I feel that it should be, BUT, I know this and I handle it in the best possible way that I can. I take pride in knowing that I am free. Free to do what I want, when I want and how I want. I have no one telling me what I can and cannot do, and even the people who think that they can realize sooner or later that I will take their thoughts into consideration but ultimately the decision is mine. I know that not everyone will like me, or agree with the things that I do and I am okay with this. After all, I only have a small time on this lovely planet, why not live it the way that I want to? Right?
So now I turn the tables over to you, Do you think that you are living your life truly free?