What will people think?

Placeholder ImageThere are many ways that this word ‘freedom’ can be interpreted…from the sublime – freedom from years of incarceration… to what could be viewed as frivolous – freedom to watch whatever you want on television.  But the point of freedom – is that whoever experiences that feeling – no matter how trivial; that feeling (because I’m not a real writer), is indescribable.

Growing up, I had quite a strict upbringing.  My parents were both from India.  Now, because of the media I totally understand why they were so over-protective about the way I was brought up.  Girls were in danger etc. However, as I was growing up, I often felt quite stifled, restricted and desperately longed for the freedom to go where I wanted, dress how I desired, do the things that others were freely able to do.  The thing is that I get it now…and eventually I got the freedom that I desperately longed for, so that’s no longer an issue.

The type of freedom that I want to discuss in a bit more detail, is actually about the constraints that we put on ourselves.  Let me explain – one of the most damaging rhetorical questions that I’ve heard repeated so many times, in many different contexts is – ‘What will people think?’  A lot of the time we live our lives judging ourselves against the standard ‘What will people think?’

What will people think?  Sub-conciously or consciously – this very question is the very driver that modifies peoples behaviour; where should we buy a house? Who should we date? What should we wear? Where should we eat? Where should we get married?  Who should we marry?  What job should we do when we are older? Where should we go on holiday?  The questions are endless.  The potential judgements that could be made, are also endless and relentless.

True freedom is when you stop giving a rat’s ass about what anyone else thinks.  The actual fact is – the only person you are answerable to is you! You judge yourself against your own values.  What does anyone else matter? Can you live with yourself with the decisions that you have made?  Yes – great! No – then change something – make things better.  Of course there are legal and moral restraint; and I’m not discussing those types of things.

When I was younger, I used to care.  I cared about what people thought.  I cared about people’s opinions.  I cared about trying to fit in.  This year (you may not believe me) – I stopped.  I tell you now, I woke up one day this year – I don’t know when, and I actually stopped caring what other people think.  It still feels extraordinary to me to experience this sense of freedom because for years I was painfully shy – so shy it sometimes came across as arrogance.  And so self conscious.  So self conscious it was debilitating at times.  Then one day, I woke up – and I wish I could have documented that momentous morning somehow, and I realised these things: no one pays my bills or expenses for me; the ‘people’ who may judge me, are never actually there to help if I ever were to need them; those very same ‘people’ were never there when things were bad; and most importantly, I never want my daughters to have limitations placed on their lives, ambitions, dreams etc because I have passed on to them that disease of caring about WHAT PEOPLE THINK.

Freedom is a truly wonderful thing.  Because when you have freedom, you can start to live. You can start to chase your dreams.  You can live the life that YOU want and that is right for you.  Caring about the fickle, fleeting of others is an unholy, unhappy waste of time.  I wish I knew this when I was 15; when I was 20; when I was 30.  I didn’t – not really.  I wish someone had sat me down and spoke to me about this.  Told me that other people didn’t matter.  I would have been ‘free’ years ago.

But that’s the beautiful thing about freedom…

It doesn’t matter when it happens – or for how long you’ve been imprisoned.  Freedom is freedom.  And there is no other feeling in the world that can beat it.



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