Freedom is one of those words that you only hear on holidays that have something to do with remembering war veterans who fought for our freedom, in kindergarten when you have to sing “America” before you can get your carton of milk, or on America’s birthday. I can remember countless essays that I’ve written for classes in which I had to explain what freedom was, what it meant to me, and give examples of things and people “that aren’t free.”
In 5th grade I answered the question with: “Prostitutes aren’t free.” I had to go to the principals office.
Over the years, my vision of freedom has developed from wanting to be free from my parents (as per my old journal entries in which I count down the days until I turned 18 so I could move out) to almost wanting to sell some of my freedom back. While I understand that as Americans we’re more free to do things that other countries are not, I sometimes catch myself wishing I wasn’t as free to do whatever I want as I am. This might be part of the whole “grass is greener” syndrome.
If I didn’t have freedom, I’d want it. Because I have it, I wish I didn’t have it at times.
As a single, 25 year old self employed girl living in South Philadelphia, I’m the epitome of freedom. I can go to bed whenever I want, wake up whenever I want, do work whenever I want, take off whenever I want, watch TV whenever I want, eat whatever I want, buy whatever I want… and so it goes. I may even go as far as saying that I have too much freedom.
Where there is no freedom, there is extreme structure. In the countries in which women need to cover their bodies, it is strictly enforced. Their structure is strong, and they don’t allow people to break the structure. On the other hand, where there is an extreme amount of freedom, there is zero structure. Think of all of the animals who run free in the woods. There are no rules. They don’t have to be anywhere at any certain time. Everything seems to be perfect until something unexpected happens. Like when a baby deer gets hit by a car. That extreme amount of freedom was awesome until their was a catastrophe. It’s that catastrophe that I, myself try to avoid.
Those who have not enough freedom will inevitably crave more of it. And since I have an unlimited surplus of freedom, I’ve grown to dislike it.
Personally, I crave being told exactly what to do. I want to be held accountable. I want to have set schedule that I have to adhere to. I want a job that wants me to designate a full 8 hours a day to doing set tasks. While some people do well with creating things to do and holding themselves accountable, it’s my weak area.
Imagine going into a new job and your boss just looking at you and saying “Just do it.” You have so many questions, but you’re just expected to know how to do whatever “it” is. Where do you start? When do you finish? What you wouldn’t give for a little but of guidance.
Yep, that’s how I feel basically every day.
The irony of having this self proclaimed amount of excess freedom is that I am in complete control of it. Even saying it out loud, “I control my own level of freedom.” feels like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. It seems so common sense, but I didn’t grasp this right away.
If I want to have a set schedule, I can make one. I want an 8 hour job that holds me accountable? I can apply for one. Even so, it’s easier to have someone else tell me what to do. However, I chose this path of life. For so long, I dreamed of having more freedom and less control from other people. I just didn’t know how much responsibility came with it.
I’m in the process of revamping my schedule and holding myself more accountable. It’s a difficult shift of power, but I’m embracing it by starting small; giving myself a bedtime, wake time, and morning routine. I don’t want to be too controlled by society or even myself because I think then I’ll start to hate it.
Freedom is an amazing thing, but as with most amazing things, too much of it can be more than you bargained for. Especially if you’re not prepared to handle it.