I want to be free.
Free from the judgment of others.
Free from society’s ideals and expectations.
But mostly, free from myself.
The above series of brief thoughts is profoundly meaningful in my life’s journey, and I imagine in many others’. The last line, however, is perhaps not only the most consequential of all, but also the most complex and challenging freedom to achieve.
I am harder on myself than anyone else is. This is probably true of most of us. I set high expectations and lofty goals for myself and I think that usually this serves me well in the kind of life I choose to live. Sometimes, this can cause disappointment or self-deprecation.
But beyond my desire for self-acceptance, there is an intricate and almost contradictory truth: there are elements of myself that I don’t particularly like and which don’t serve me and my relationships well – those aspects mainly relate to attitudes, reactions and emotions. In short, I want to continue to learn to love and accept myself as the person I am, but in order to be content with my existence and to feel I am living a progressive, blissful and healthy life, I need to continue to change and grow in the ways that I can. I know that there is a very natural and constructive way to strike this balance, which involves being content in who you are in the moment while seeing the need for change and working steadily towards those changes with patience and focus.
Some of my attributes and tendencies are innate in my personality and some of them are a product of the environment in which I’ve lived my life to this point: both macro and micro. Furthermore, certain of those attributes have developed over the period in my life in which I began to explore more complex, mature relationships with the people around me. It is in those relationships – with family, friends, colleagues, lovers, partners – that we experience the greatest highs and lows and perhaps our deepest disappointments and injuries. For me, this is certainly true.
I’m not quite ready to explore some of those aspects of me here, just yet – to a degree because they are not easy to articulate, but chiefly because this process means laying myself a little barer and holding myself more accountable to the changes I want to see in myself.
So, for now, I’ll simply reiterate my philosophy of responsibility for self. I know that only I can choose to change and grow, and this includes recognizing my opportunities for growth; big and small, easy and difficult. It means listening openly yet discerningly to those who care about me and who are willing to constructively share perspectives as well as to my own internal voice. This discernment involves wisely sifting through information for pure truth, which is sometimes obscured by fear, pain, alternative purpose. Moreover, it requires more objective observation of the world, other people, myself and the interaction between them all. Ultimately, I know that I must take full responsibility for myself – my choices, attitudes, reactions, actions. While “shit happens” and people will hurt me, it’s ultimately up to me how I move forward. If there are two facts I am certain of in all of this, it is these:
1. There is much in life I cannot control.
2. I can control my state of mind and what results from that.
I do see this lifelong journey of freedom, discovery and focused change to be one of spiritual and emotional enlightenment and I have to say, I’m pretty excited because I can already see the benefits that some of these changes will beget.