I’m writing this short piece today because I have realized that, throughout my life, I have allowed external factors to influence many of my decisions. Whether it has been because of family, friends, work, authority, or society as a whole, ironically, I have not entirely considered myself a priority in my own life. Although I am incredibly grateful for what God has given me, I sometimes find myself frustrated with the roller coaster of my life. The sudden awareness that I am only to blame for my lifestyle being revolved around the “happiness” of others, has made me wonder about the concept of autonomy.
When we say we are “happy” or “free,” do we really understand what it means? I have a hard time believing that any of us have experienced true happiness or freedom. The kind of happiness and freedom society seems to experience relies on people and things. It’s circumstantial, dependent, temporary, and corrupted in its intention, whereas actual happiness and freedom are supposed to be unconditional and pure. The more I think about it, the idea of having autonomy over one's life, seems to be the only way to real happiness and liberation.
We all have an individual responsibility to the world, but I do not believe that we can actually improve the world, or help another, without helping and understanding ourselves first. Often we make choices that we later regret because they are either done impulsively, or without a true sense of our own understanding. Sometimes we find ourselves involved in situations that end up making us feel like we are permanently trapped in a pattern or lifestyle. It might entail career choices, getting married, having kids, etc. Whatever the case may be, undergoing mental and emotional imprisonment eats at the body and soul. It’s a silent killer --- the worst kind of disease.
However, as humans we’ve been graced with the ability to think. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson that said, “The ancestor of every action is a thought.” In order for anything to materialize, it must first be thought of. Just like we can create something beautiful, we can also destroy it in seconds. The mind is so powerful that we are all capable of removing ourselves from both internal and external oppression. We can shape our reality; form our beliefs, and morals. Our mind allows us the chance to come close to living life as genuinely and authentically as we wish. When we take responsibility for our lives, and make choices that make us better individuals, then we also contribute that positivity into the world.
I’m on a path to understanding myself. Before I can continue to help others, I want to be the best version of myself. Only I can make that happen. Anyone who is feeling the same, know you are not alone.