I’m as free as a bird.
Our nation celebrates its freedom with the fanfare of parades, fireworks, and an entire day dedicated to its importance. We honor those that have made the land of the free, home of the brave possible. Freedom is so valued that people have given their lives and risked everything to get it – freedom from another country’s rule, from slavery, from the confines of previously tolerated norms. We rarely think about what freedom really means, and yet each year for one day we are proud to wear red, white, and blue and honor our liberty.
But what does freedom mean to you personally? If it means “exemption from external control, interference, regulation,” like the dictionary says it does, you may be disappointed. As a larger picture, yes, we are “free” to do as we wish, work where we would like, travel, spend our money at Target freely (maybe too freely in my case), and speak our minds. Our liberties however are confined to many things, laws, regulations, the status quo. Since we oftentimes have little control over laws in place (mostly) to keep us safe and to keep our country running smoothly, let’s look at the status quo which honestly has the most effect on us anyways.
When I started my business, I was afraid. There are so many things to consider when becoming an entrepreneur. Working in a direct sales business takes away some of the bigger concerns as there is less overhead, but I still was thinking … can I afford this, how will I advertise, I know NOTHING about business or sales. All valid concerns, but do you know what my biggest fear was? The fear that held me back? WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK??? I have worked a “normal” job my entire adult life and have been respected in the medical field for years. So, I worried at night, will I lose credibility, will my family wonder if I’ve lost my mind, will people talk about me in their social circles? I was about to leave the realm of the ordinary after all.
I didn’t know it at the time, but getting past that fear represents freedom in so many ways for me. We are confined in several arenas in our lives simply because of tradition, what is popular, or because we want to be accepted or approved of. This lack of personal freedom is imposed on us by society AND BY OURSELVES. We are so comfortable in a familiar space that true freedom sits on the sidelines of our lives screaming PICK ME, PICK ME. Other people’s rules and expectations play such an overwhelming role in our lives when really OUR HEART should be our only ruler.
Because of my choice to move past my fear, I have experienced the freedom of not giving a fuck if other people doubt my decisions, which by the way feels pretty damn amazing. That alone is worthy of its own parade and fireworks once a year, maybe more! But guess what, there’s more.
The time freedom I have because I skirted the norm and now work a 9-5 just part-time, and only because I choose to, has opened up opportunities beyond what I could have ever hoped. I actually get to spend more time in the summer with my kids than their babysitter does. I get to make time for myself at the gym, stop ignoring my out of control messy yard, and READ. That was unheard of for years, minus textbooks in graduate school.
Beyond that I have more financial freedom than I ever have in my adult life, which is saying something after overcoming some wild divorce/grad school/survival debt just over two years ago. There are obvious reasons why less stress over finances is freeing, but the fact it has come so easily after simply choosing my own way is a bit mind blowing for me. Freedom, despite popular belief, does not have to come at a cost, but just a step in a different direction.
I have made a million mistakes in my life, and still make one now and again, but one important thing I have done in the last two years is stop SHOULDING myself. You know – I should work a 9-5 like everyone else, I should just take the easy road, I should ignore my gut. Letting go of the shoulds has given me the freedom to fly like a bird. We can ALL do this. So a challenge for you in this week of freedom celebrations. Choose something you feel like you “should” do, and just say NO, or say YES to something you feel like you shouldn’t do because you fear other’s opinions. Truly being exempt from other’s control will change your life. Take it from me, choosing personal freedom and making it the MVP in my life has made every day Independence Day.