What is true freedom?

On my graduation day of primary school, my teacher delivered his last lesson to us. Our class was one of his first graduating class in his teaching career. We stayed as class for past two years. It wasn’t a smooth sailing. We had great times and worst times. We had multiple bullying episodes, misbehaving children, and someone refused to come to the class. Probably other teacher might thought our class was a mess.

As I was living in a country where extreme pressures were on teachers. The responsibility of teachers were beyond class room. They had to home visit families to ensure families are functioning enough for children to attend compulsory education. Teachers had to support parents in their parenting too. When I think back now, there were a lot of pressure on him to teach us.

His last lesson to us was about true meaning of ‘freedom’. Following is what I remembered from his last lesson. It’s more than 20 years now.

You are going to graduate from primary school today. You will be freed from your primary school education but it doesn’t mean you will be freely released to the world. As you grow up, there are more things to bound you from what you so called ‘freedom’. For me, ‘freedom’ is how you express yourself freely in that kind of limited space. How you freely enjoy that space. How you take your own responsibility to all your acts. Only then, no one can take that freedom away from you. Only then, you are truly free.

He concluded by congratulating us of our graduation. This probably was the first time he talked to us about freedom. It, indeed, changed my perspective about ‘freedom’. It wasn’t a word to mean I can do whatever I want to do without restrictions. It was a word that comes with responsibility and to enjoy life regardless of enforced limitations.

Recently, whilst I was discovering for myself, I come across following quote. This reminded me about above episode, my primary school teacher.

The freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of what “should” be, was, or will be.

The freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of what you “should” feel and think.

The freedom to feel what you feel, instead of what you “ought” to feel.

The freedom to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission.

The freedom to take risks on you own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure”.

Virginia Satir

Before meeting this quote, I was very bounded by everything around me. As I lived, I created so many rules and boundaries for myself. Some were serving at a time but not anymore, and some are still serving me today.

This quote actually freed me from such strict boundaries for myself. It made me realised that I have choice. I have freedom to see, hear, say, and feel. I have freedom to ask for support. And I have freedom to take risks on my own which I have interpreted as “I have freedom to take responsibility of my own life.” When I make the decision to take all responsibilities of my own life, I have freedom to see, hear, say and feel what I want to see, hear, say and feel.

What have you decided to see, hear, say and feel today?
How are you going to enjoy your freedom today?
What does freedom means to you?

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