Outside, the sun shines through clouds, tempting those stuck behind a window, wishing they could feel it on their skin. As a prisoner of responsibility, one is never free of anything. There is always something keeping you back. When we think of freedom we think of it as having the capability to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Of course, the case isn’t true with the average person: there’s work, family, pets, bills, and so much more that we’re responsible for.
Freedom consists of three main principles:
1. The absence of human coercion or restraint preventing one from choosing the alternatives one would wish.
2. The absence of physical constraints in natural conditions which prevent one from achieving one’s chosen objectives.
3. The possession of the means or the power to achieve the objective one chooses of one’s own volition.Rashan John, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India
What happens when you don’t feel free? You feel helpless, ashamed, weak, and hateful. Worse, it’s a feeling that you don’t often recognize. I know, because I’ve been there. Out of the three principles of freedom, I’ve felt most influenced by human coercion. Then again, who hasn’t? We all have family members or friends who tell us what we “should” and “should not” do. Everyone thinks they know better and constantly impose their way of thinking onto you.
At first, you’re rebellious, but after countless comments and hours of influence, you give in and become a person you never wanted to be in the first place. Better than that, you’re not allowed to dislike it. You’re not allowed to oppose others on how you want to be or act for they “know better.” You’re told that this it’s good for you, that these people care about you. In losing your ability to say no, you become miserable because you never thought you’d end up the way others wanted you to be.
Most people aren’t free, so they don’t want you to be. Your dream isn’t realistic because someone older and wiser couldn’t achieve theirs. You should care about making money more than doing what makes you happy because that’s what everyone else did. You can’t do what you want because you have other responsibilities. When you give into these notions, you normalize the negativity and spread it to others.
For a while, I thought freedom and independence were symbiotic. If I gained independence from others and control over my life, I’d be free. While it’s true that these two things coincide with one another, there’s a fine line to walk along when trying to find yourself without losing relationships. The pursuit can be lonely. Loneliness is life threating to a person’s psychological and physical state. A person can feel lonely in a room full of people, in a marriage or family. Being lonely means to feel disconnected, unable to share your thoughts.
“That solitude which we often lament in our life with others betrays our misunderstanding of its meaning. We live together failing to recognize what unites us. Thus even the smallest offense becomes a pretense for breaking down the bonds of trust.”2019 An Epidemic of Loneliness
It’s difficult to share the pain with others. Especially the type of pain that comes with feeling out of control of your life. There are so many things we are all blessed with, and to express some negativity about how you feel in your current state, makes you feel guilty. You convince yourself that everyone around you is right and you are wrong, thus disconnecting from them because they couldn’t possibly understand.
Take Control of Your Life.
Humans have limits. If we aren’t capable of knowing our limit, our body will do it for us. Breaking the hold of those keeping us back is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough just to set yourself free. You need the support of the ones you love once you make your decision. Without people to share your highs and lows, you can feel lonely. But your loneliness is dependent on you. People do want to listen. They want to help. There are those out there who do love you and any decision you make. You have to just have to allow them to.
Ashley Wilson is a 26-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida. She graduated from University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in English.