This is not the first time someone asked me ‘what does freedom mean to you?’ and I know it won’t be the last; because of all the battles we fight everyday, the ones for our freedoms are truly the most important ones. The freedom to express, live, earn, thrive and even just be.
As a child if I was asked about freedom, I’d probably say something to the effect of ‘ no rules ever’. As a teenager for me freedom was just being treated equally (to men). Later in college, I understood freedom in a more academic and rational sense. But personally back then, freedom to me was about my own individual space.
The notion of individual freedom keeps changing, isn’t it? ( There is also a collective concept of freedom, in which context: As nation today, for us the freedom of expression is what I consider to be the most endangered freedom of all.) But personally, for me at this juncture of life, What i seek freedom from, is something I didn’t think I would every be bound by. Freedom to me is the freedom from opinions, of others and of myself.
To be honest, people have been throwing opinions my way for as long as I can remember. Many had something or the other to say about what I studied, where I worked, how I dressed and even how I looked. No matter what we do or say, I am sure someone somewhere will have something to say about it. We always do.
If you think of it, that is what you have a brain for, to make meaning of the world around us and have a judgement of what is right and wrong, and by extension have a sense of what is acceptable to us and what is not. It makes sense then, to have opinions. So, why do I have a problem with it?
I seek freedom from the opinionated. I want the freedom to break away from what those around me perceive about my being. I want freedom to also go beyond my own commentary on myself. Everytime, I pick an adjective to describe myself, I find an opinion on me is born. I don’t want to have to prove them right or wrong.
Blogger – She is a social media addict.
Social worker – she is the idealist types
Independent – She is an over confident person who does not listen to others.
Working From Home – She is working for the sake of it.
Mother – (the opinions on this role are so many I think that can become a blog in itself)
I have tried and tried, to make these opinions go away. To be indifferent and unaffected. I realise that this process has weighed me down. If I try to escape them, I find myself in a cave. If I try to change them I find myself in an aggressive combat, and don’t even get me started on my attempts to CHANGE them. So, I think being free from this juggernaut of opinions is what my freedom today is about.
The task upon me now – of parenting – is so massive, many external opinions flying around me fade in it’s enormity. They are there, they creep into my thoughts whenever they can. But they don’t hold me. The real power I find, is with my opinions of myself. I am more aware now about how I judge my thoughts, my efforts and my aspirations. I am also aware of my opinions on my opinions. Then, there is also my opinion of all that is around me. These do bind me. It is not always like a chain, or being held down. It is also like a whirlwind, you want to escape.
All opinions are not bad or negative. But every opinion has the potential to tie you down. So, I think freedom to me today, is the freedom from such opinions. It is the empowerment to let go of what others might think of my life and also stepping away from conforming to my own opinions.
Humans grow. When you grow you learn and in the process you should also undergo the tough part- change. You should be able to change how you think about something in the face of new information. If your opinions about matters around you and your own personality remain unchanged over time, you are not being consistent, you are being stagnant.
So in this phase of my life, I encounter a myriad of opinions day in and day out, about breastfeeding, about formula feeds, about diapering, about baby food, about parenting styles and choices. I am not sure how free I really am from all the judgements and advice that form my understanding of ‘opinions’. At times I feel very free and nonchalent about it all, at other times I find my mood and emotions completely in control of these things. If someone opines, ‘good, you are a great mom’…I swell with pride and when they add ‘but….’ I catch myself mumbling and grumbling. In the macro-view, I have a live and let live attitude, I don’t think there are good parents and bad parents. Everyone is trying to do their best. Including us! In such times, I feel like I am free from the shackles of opinions.
Even though I don’t know just how free I am in this sense; I am very aware of how much my present concept of freedom is influenced by my role as a mother. But that is who I am. It is not everything that I am, but motherhood is the biggest part of me, for now and forever.
This blog post is a part of #LetsDiscussFreedom Blogathon. I would like to thank Sumira Bhatia from The Cuckoo’s Nest for introducing me.
I would now like to introduce Misha from Freshly Baked Head and recommend you to read her views on the prompt ‘What Does Freedom Mean to You’.