Real freedom for me is the ability to say no to people, say no to a job, say no to money, and the capability to do whatever, wherever, whenever. It’s the audacity to say “screw it” when applicable. You can get in and out of things if necessary. It is not only the freedom to do things, it is also the freedom from things. Freedom is a paradox, it’s sort of free but at the same time very luxurious.
Freedom and money
You might think that freedom is earning a lot of money, I once thought that too. But if you don't find satisfaction in the work that you do and you just do it for plain old money then you’ll realize eventually that it just becomes another of your golden shackles in life. There is liberation in letting things go. When you feel like you can't get out of a high-income client or a job, then even if you’re a freelancer, you are not really free.
When we feel “safe” and “secure” about a job, it is sometimes daunting to think about what would happen when we lose it. We think we’ll be paralyzed and lost but its really far from the truth. I realized that it's not that bad. And perhaps that could only happen if one has reached a point whereby he or she is comfortable financially. Of course, if you have so much on the line, then its a completely different story. The work would not matter more but to the people or the thing that you do it for. But most people nowadays derive meaning from work, its really a new thing, people in the past just find work as a means to pay the bills and they get meaning from other channels like engaging in tribal activities through community involvement or religion.
Most misery in life is caused by financial troubles but if you have that one sorted out, like having an emergency fund, having enough saved, and a diversified investment portfolio then it really just becomes a question of existential meaning. If you have your basic needs met, the pursuit of art, creativity, and beauty follows. That’s the real luxury in life.
Freedom and time
Freelancing has allowed me to do the work that I want to do. Earn money and at the same time have the flexibility to explore what else there is to learn. As a creative person, I noticed that I am the most stressed version of myself when I don't get to have the creative freedom to do what my mind and my heart tells me to do. And I think a lot of people could resonate with that.
Freeing your time is the best gift that you could ever give yourself.
Sometimes we just get too caught up with progressing in terms of income and responsibility, but I realized that when you pursue real peace and meaning, these trackers of “success” is just noise. More work, more money isn’t the answer. If we continue to sell time, we are never free. It would be great to reach a point of having passive income or having a piece of a business, and even until then, it’s not the money that makes that all great but the freedom it provides you to walk away from something. When it becomes toxic, when it becomes unbearable, when it becomes heavy, you should have the choice.
And you know what? We all have that choice, we just have to take it. That’s another luxury in life apart from the freedom to be creative.
Freedom and fear
Fear is mostly worse inside our heads. I personally tend to overthink things and its easy to cultivate fear on the inside. Even if you have a system in place, even if you have a backup plan, fear naturally overrides that and we have to actively choose to not engulf ourselves with it. Fear could be a great motivator, its a defense mechanism that allowed our kind to survive but for situations where it threatens our happiness, then we have to able to recognize that its there, acknowledge it, and deal with it.
Denial is another defense mechanism that threatens the pursuit for freedom. Sometimes or most times, we talk ourselves into thinking that it's okay, we can wait until life or circumstance happens to us. It's like, “I cannot quit my job, I’ll wait till they fire me.” Then the responsibility of having the possibility of regret is taken out of our hands. It’s easier to not regret something you have no control over. Or at least we think that. It takes a lot to realize that we receive more damage when we do not actively take control and make the hard decisions. It’s counterintuitive but in order to have freedom, we should exercise a level of control back into our lives. It’s hard to do, it’s easier to go with the flow and just let life do its thing to us but if we pursue real freedom, taking responsibility and realizing that there is power in choosing is essential.
Freedom and intuition
Newton’s third law of motion state that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Many harps on pursuing freedom but it is rare to delve much into its cost. Even our political and social freedom came at a cost. Lives of many men and women who fought for the liberties we have today.
When we choose to walk away, we exchange our freedom from that very thing we walked away from. It could be an opportunity, a relationship, or money. But even if it’s costly, people choose freedom because the price of staying the same is more costly than leaving and doing something else. If it’s an easy choice, then everyone would have just done what they wanted to do.
In our very thought process, freedom is often in conflict with commitment. I myself wonder and ponder if it's really freedom that I'm choosing or if I just lack the necessary commitment to stay on something.
But I think its a very intuitive thing. You’ll know when enough is enough. The tolerance to suffering and the timeframe by which a person reaches a point of wanting change could vary person to person, but I do believe it is intuitive.
We just have that feeling in our gut that yes, we are ready to sacrifice it all. We can let go. We can be free.