– How we get hung up
For the longest time, I’ve noticed myself sighing. I look outside and it feels like it calls to me. I think of where I am, and I get an anxiety attack. I think of what I’m doing and I start questioning my every choices, even if I entered them with passion.
I crave motion, change. I think we all do. Excitement keeps us alive.
But just as I crave it, I’ve also always followed the path laid out before me.
I went to school my entire life, chased the grades. I tried to be an achiever of other people’s benchmarks.
Slowly, this became the only available reality.
When I thought about my options, there really only was the one path.
That’s when you get this odd cognitive dissonance. You see the path before you and it feels like the only way, but at the same time, something calls to you. It drives you crazy, makes you miserable.
You start feeling claustrophobic, trapped. And you’re not really sure why.
After all, if this is the only choice, you must be succeeding. Isn’t this what we all want? To succeed?
But what’s success? Is it empty titles? Or is it ultimately happiness?
Don’t get me wrong, they ARE correlated.
But not in the wrong way. Following an empty title, forgetting to have it bring you to your ultimate goal won’t bring you happiness.
The question really is: What is your ultimate goal?
– Socialisation to root
Before we tackle this important question, let’s discuss why we get hung up this way.
For everyone, but perhaps more specifically for women, society dictates a fixed set of rules. Who you should be, what you should look like, who you should be with.
And those rules aren’t meta rules either. They’re usually very strict scripts with concrete examples bombarded in the media.
In fact, you can see yourself clearly in a template of a life.
How many women have I heard desiring the white picket fence in principle, but when questioned, realising they had no real intention to fulfill the smaller goals that would allow it to happen.
These scripts are especially restricting for women because they are in part meant to subordinate.
As woman, you must be subordinate to the men around you, to your duties as a life bearer towards society, and generally as a gatekeeper of your contextual values. You are also encouraged to tie yourself to many more people, women are social animals, community pillars, bearers of responsibility. These can become heavy, and keep you from freedom.
To add to this, our idealized notion of success is simplified to a parable, we forget to interpret because of the pressure to achieve it.
So for me, this translated into believing I had to go to university, and continue studying until I found a job.
But this script had no real end, because I had no real goal.
I had never stopped to consider what I may want for myself, since I’d always followed a script.
This loop thus led me nowhere, and i continued to follow it for infinity, since leaving it meant reaching an unknown.
And we are not socialised to handle the unknown.
We are socialised to project known everywhere, to seek out the known. The normative. So once again, it’s worth asking, if you accept the unknown, and look into your own unknown, what do you want?
In this sense, freedom can take many forms. It can be unshackling yourself from your roots, or it can simply be ensuring more wiggle room for yourself to make meaningful decisions.
-Main factors to take into account
Once you’ve figured that part, the hardest is nowhere near over. But at least you can start to draft a plan.
What should this plan take into account?
I found that the main aspect to consider was financial security. This will entail not having to be dependant on anyone, and feeling secure enough that you can make decisions based on other factors than survival. But this can take many forms for many people.
For some, it means securing a job you’ll be able to take with you. For others, it means reducing your expenses to the bare minimum, and relying on social networks. Whatever it is, it usually is the first step.
Once you have this base, calm sets in, and you can see father, and allow unexpected to hit you.
The second aspect is usually emotional ties.How will you handle change in relation to the ties you have. Can the people in your life accept that you will now effect some decisions? Will they accept a form of distance, however it may manifest?
Or could they follow you? Is this something you want? Would you relinquish a part of your freedom to maintain certain ties?
You will have to make compromises, and some of them will be hard. But the relationships worth keeping are those that are flexible enough to allow you to grow and move without fearing to be lost.
Then come the legalities. Those are mostly related to travel, but they can also apply to getting out of the normative lifestyle you are in now. Perhaps you wish to get off the grid. Perhaps, no matter your choice, you need certain papers, and those can be hard to come by, or the process can be difficult and long.
Thinking about this is important, but can be done calmly once you have everything else settled.
-It’s always better tomorrow
Now you’re all settled. What’s the hold up?
Well, we tend to be afraid to enact change. We think about it, we plan it out carefully. But this is simply to push it away longer.
You know you could go. You know you could make that change, but it’s so comfortable here. Your existential angst is bearable, when compared to the fear of the unknown.
But this comfort is an illusion. It’s a defense mechanism to pull you to sleep. There’s a reason you wanted this change to begin with. And the more you wait, the more you teach yourself that this is who you are. That you can’t really do it.
The more you put off your goals, the more you become this person who can’t. You identify to it.
But it’s not true. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Who you are, is you want to be, give or take a few privileges.
Mostly if you have the means, use them. You CAN break free, if you listen to your initial desires.
If you stop silencing the voice that went counter to the normative scripts.
-Dealing with Fear
Now, we’ve mentioned it several times before. Fear is probably your greatest enemy here. You fear the unknown, and you fear the potential knowns that you dislike.
The what if.
But you can also realize that your entire life has gone by with you not actually really knowing what was coming next. You had a script you were following, but there was no certainty the script would actually come to fruition. We’re not on a treadmill. In fact, you probably had to work hard to get to where you are today. You pulled resources you didn’t know you had sometimes.
This is all well and good, and you can tell yourself this rationally, but fear won’t just go away. That’s an ableist illusion.
You’re not doomed to stay in fear however.
You can first try to expose yourself to what other people have done. A bit like you’re doing now.
You can help yourself by using other scripts. It’s ok to have scripts, but you should be able to get in and out of them freely. Broadening the range of available scripts is a positive tool.
Look for blog posts about travelers, or relevant changes you wish to enact.
Find groups and communities, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask beginner questions. That’s why these groups even exist.
Then, you can inoculate yourself slowly. Test out the change with little increments. We will discuss this at the end.
– Steering towards motivation
All of this process is inspiring, and fulfilling. But it’s also emotionally costly. Even if, at first, the novelty of it all will be enough to keep you going, this will soon run out. Remember, we are talking about a change in paradigm. It’s possible that all of the spheres of your life will be affected by this change in some way or other.
Those changes may also limit your access to the resources you took for granted. It’s not necessarily bad. Some of our anchors look like good things at first. They push us to be afraid to lose something. But there are other resources out there. You just need to be open to stepping outside.
All this being said, there is a way for you to maintain motivation, without emotionally running out. This is achieved through goal setting.
Small goals, and larger goals. Keep yourself moving by setting small landmarks that you can reach easily. This will give you validation and a sense of motion.
But also, set something larger that you can look at and makes you want to get up. Don’t be afraid to dream big. It sounds like a pseudo-psychology life coach advice, but it’s true. Bigger dreams have more fuel in them to keep you going while you through your smaller goals. And maybe your biggest dream isn’t the one you initially thought.
For instance, I’ve always wanted to be a singer. Honestly, so have most people who grew up on The Voice. And that’s not realistic because I’m focusing on one path that could lead me to my real goal, instead of finding what I could do to really take me there. But my overarching goal can be big, and inspiring. I want to be happy, blissful, fulfilled.
And I can be, with the right tools and aim.
-Not giving up on leads even if intangible at first
Now here’s where it gets slightly tricky. Not everything you will try will go smoothly. In fact, a lot of it might seem like it’s failing. And it could be tempting to just give up. Now that you are becoming more free, it’s easy to think that spreading yourself and trying a million things is just part of that freedom. And in a sense it is, but that is thinking on the short term.
If you keep spending spending your resources on endeavours that you do not see through, you will run out, and be left with only your older options.
Besides, it’s true that it never feels good to “fail”. We are hooked on a vision of ourselves, and it crushes our soul when it is reflected negatively.
But you’re not failing.
Think of the first steps you took. You didn’t run at first (or maybe you did, and koodos to you). At first you fell a lot. And that was part of learning. It taught you where the limits of your balance were, and how to calibrate. That’s how you must see the difficulties of the beginning of your path. Opportunities to grow, and refine your technique. Every hurdle will teach you something valuable. Continue on your path.
At some point, it’s acceptable to let go and try something else. You’ve just got to look inside yourself and and ask if you really gave it your all before you let go.
– Accepting to start small
On that note, it’s important to understand that your path cannot start as the rockstar you want to be. You will have to accept to receive less than you intend at first. It’s even probable you will receive nothing at all to get your name out.
No matter the sphere, you’ll have to start small. By starting small, you start faster, and get a foot in whatever it is you’re seeking. You’ll learn about the culture, and you’ll adapt, integrating the habitus of the sphere you are eyeing.
I hope with this article, you have a bit of a better grasp on how to begin your journey to freedom.
As mentioned, it isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. But it is rewarding. And it might just be what you need.
What are your experiences of reaching freedom? How has it impacted your life, and how have you done it?
Share your story below 🙂
Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash
Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash