4 Sacrifices You Can Make in Order to Have More Freedom (of Any Kind)
Freedom — the most lusted-after, lifestyle concept of the 21st century. We dream of it in every area of our lives: financially (which we equate with living a Nomad life in Bali), in love (where we get to have our cake and eat it too), career-wise (time to actually do the things that we want to do) — but more often than not, for most, the sacrifices end up being too grand to make.
We’re often shackled to imaginary conventions of society. The ‘right age’, the ‘right circumstance’, being the ‘right kind of person’. We put things off, we make excuses, we tell ourselves we’re not ‘ready’ or that our thoughts are irrational — but to quote my father; “there is no book.”
We are creatures of habit. We get used to what is around us and accept it as a generalized view of reality.
It’s what makes us confident when we turn the corner — a reassurance of what to expect. There isn’t, therefore, much thought required for this type of survival. We aren't triggered by fear, wonder, or thrill. There is nothing to admire anew or dread to learn from.
Yet, we romanticize the idea of being on holiday — wait patiently, posting countdowns on Instagram months before our outbound flight. We acknowledge the thrill and seek the adventure but only when we have the comfort of return.
The vulnerability is limited, and with that, so is freedom.
Being from Australia, I frequently have friends expressing their dreams to one day move and settle in the glistening land. What most commonly stops them from doing anything about this, is the perceived irrationality of such a long-term venture — the prolonged unfamiliarity that usually leads them to decide that a much more viable option is to, in fact, let it remain a dream.
We must let go of our idea of life, in order to accept the change and growth that another can provide.
Change triggers further change. When we dream of our ideal life, we usually have a vision that is drastically different from the life we lead.
Inevitably, our own lives become mundane to us. Whilst we dream of serenity, peace, and sipping on coconuts, people on the other side of the world are inspired by our busy Metropolitan lives amongst the hustle and bustle of a thriving city.
Our dreams often don’t match the reality we live in, which creates the need for a shift in priorities and change in desires. Most of the time, what this comes with, is leaving people you love behind.
“You’ve got to leave before you get left.”— Taylor Swift
The second that I made it known to my dearest friends that I’d be moving across the continent, was the very second that they all began to consider the route that their own lives were taking.
Some of them were excited for me, some envied my courage and some were jealous that they weren’t able to do the same. Subconsciously or not, it triggered something within them.
Soon enough, each person had their own dazzling plan for the coming, post-pandemic year. One, finally found the spontaneity to make the move to the British seaside with her partner, another has applied for a working visa in Australia, and another decided to start a course that’ll provide her with the career change she’s desired for years.
Leaving people behind can be saddening, but perhaps, the yearning within you is what others need in order to find what they’re looking for too.
Most people will shake their heads at the idea of leaving a well-paid job. Isn’t earning a lot of money the absolute dream?
A whopping 85% of people are unhappy with their jobs. Money very rarely equates to happiness but many people are caught up in the idea that a high salary and glamourized workaholic culture is a success.
Erika Kullberg, explains the need to ‘keep up’ with working 100 hour weeks at the expense of missing out on last moments with loved ones. Her managers would simply not allow for any time off — even on compassionate grounds, which led her to her epiphany about money. She’d constantly be met with the question; ‘What do you think that we pay you so much for?”.
“The power of money is not the things you can buy, it’s the optionality and the freedom that it affords you.”
To many people, money is a prison. They get caught up in committing their lives to a job that provides them with a certain lifestyle that they then get used to. In order to keep up with this lifestyle, they are now reliant on this job — it’s a catch-22 and it never ends.
Many successful people including the founders of SoundCloud famously quit jobs they hated to be inspired by their broke slump whilst they hustled for something that actually motivated them to get up in the morning.
The addiction of earning a lot of money results in a trap of paying for expensive things. Ones that, most of the time, we don’t use. Sure, it’s nice to tell your upper-class friends that you own a yacht…but what is being done with it for the 44 weeks out of the year that it isn’t being used? The logistics of most costs (usually ones attached to boasting rights) don’t make any sense.
We buy mansions with our high salaries that we don't get to enjoy, as we’re spending more and more time at work. Most sky-rise workplaces in central London now offer GP’s on sight, monthly dentist checkups, gyms and showers, and even some; beds, in case you work late.
It's a far cry from the Scandinavian work-life balance of Lagom — the Swedish ideal of balanced living. There is no overtime, there are frequent coffee breaks to enjoy the company of colleagues, and everyone is guaranteed three consecutive weeks off in the summer. There’s probably something in it, considering Sweden is ranked in the top 10 happiest countries on a yearly basis.
We are being conditioned to prioritize our jobs in a dangerous way. Extreme workaholic culture negates any sense of self and of the things we enjoy and love as simple humans. It becomes easy to lose our identity and assign it to our jobs instead — we saw this causing depression amongst many of those made redundant in the past year. It is also evident amongst celebrities who achieve greatness at a young age and cannot fathom anything more to live for — this is called Paradise Syndrome.
There is nothing freeing about comfort. Sure, you’re almost guaranteed to have fewer migraines, but what is the purpose behind a stagnant life? When you let go of control, you let go of predictability — which to some, may be a wonderfully soft safety net, but to others (like me) — is a prison.
When you look back on your life, do you want it to resemble a deathly flat line on the EKG or a bumpy ride full of risk and failure but wonderfully enchanting adventure?
When I was in my early twenties I moved from London to LA — with that not being, in the slightest, an extreme culture shift, it was still terribly overwhelming. Something as simple as scanning the shelves of my local Wallgreens to find no familiar products made my homesick heart weep.
After some time, inevitably, the unfamiliar became the new familiar.
But what really is freedom? Is it having a well-paid job that allows you to holiday twice a year? To afford a nice house that you leave empty for the long days you’re in the office? Is it remaining in the same place in order to keep your most trusted friendships and therefore miss out on new ones? Or perhaps, it’s deciding that you’re content with what you know, purely out of fear of the unknown?
For me, freedom is owning your own time. There isn’t anything quite as valuable as time. In some cases, money will buy you time, however, society has utilized this idea and created a paradox that essentially traps us within its convention.
If you enjoy your job, that is freedom. If you’re doing something about changing your circumstance, that is freedom. Remaining in one place, fearing change, and accepting your fate, isn't.
“I don’t want to be in a situation for even an hour where I’m not enjoying myself.” — Kim Cattrall