With another Fourth of July weekend upon us, my thoughts can’t help but turn to the idea of freedom.
We enjoy a lot of freedoms in this country, but sometimes we forget that we still must choose for ourselves—in our own personal way—what makes us feel free.
What does it really mean to me to be free?
To me, it means honoring what I want this weekend—even if it’s not the same thing other people want.
Staying in, sipping some iced coffee and reading a book—that’s what would make me feel free this weekend. Having some quiet time alone is what nourishes my soul. It’s what makes me happy and rejuvenates me.
It took me many years to realize that I could do this. The notion that I was free to choose how I spent my time only felt acceptable if it was a “non-holiday” time. Holidays tended to give me a sense of obligation. I was too scared to do my own thing, out of fear it meant something was wrong with me.
Then one year, I just decided to go rogue and see what happened.
The first holiday I skipped was a big one—New Year’s Eve. I stayed in, meditated, wrote in my journal and reflected on the year behind and the year ahead. It felt so good that I couldn’t believe I’d never done it before. I felt totally in tune with myself—like I was finally making self-love a priority.
Afterwards, I didn’t drift off into a total state of isolation, as I’d feared I would. In fact, I grew closer to people as I realized that I no longer was spending time with people out of a sense of obligation.
I’d visit with people one-on-one, or in small groups, which is what has always felt most natural to me. I was honest with people about no longer wanting to go out on New Years Eve, and this allowed me to feel closer to them, as I was being my true self. I no longer hid my desire to be alone on most holidays, and the funny thing is—nobody cared.
This weekend, there will be a big barbecue with friends and family. I’m planning to skip it.
After the barbecue, I’ll join my Dad, nephew and sister for an overnight backpacking trip out to a lake. That is the kind of thing I enjoy, and listening to that voice inside of me—that tells me to do what brings me joy—is what gives me a true feeling of freedom.
While everyone is at the barbecue, I will continue my ritual of journaling, meditating and reflecting.
I will take time to give gratitude to those who fought for the freedoms I enjoy. I will give gratitude for all I can do, that many others are denied. And I’ll give gratitude to myself, for listening to what it’s in my heart.
I hope that you also find your sense of freedom this weekend—in your own way—in whatever feels true to you.