How do -you- define freedom? Do you think you are free?

So anybody who knows me, knows that concepts and questions keep swarming my head for a long time before I make up my mind about a topic.. and sometimes I never make up my mind at all.

In this particular case:

A while ago, I told people that I work 32 hrs a week. And I was told “pah, 32 hrs? That’s part-time! You should try to work my hrs! Come back when you’ve put in the 72 hrs I put in per week!”

It’s been lingering on my mind for a while, that someone should boast about them working so much more than I and even talk me down on it. It made me wonder about the differences in culture between there and here, because frankly; I know some people who work a lot… but I also know a lot of people who, like me, work to live and not live to work.

In the same conversation came up the “oh you just live with a roommate don’t you?” question. Living the way we do, is not being married, hence it’s being degraded to living roommate style. Where as, by dutch laws, we are truly to be considered the same as being married. Except; we skipped the ceremonial part, and just went for the contract. In the Netherlands there are many options of living together with someone, bypassing the institution of marriage. There is absolutely no other reason, really, to be married here unless you -want- it.

What -grates- me about those 2 comments…, is that these are not one-time instances. I meet a whole lot of people coming from self proclaimed “free” countries (not only US, in case anyone was feeling targeted) who do not count themselves lucky enough to have these freedoms.. working that much and living with another person under the same roof with the same benefits and responsibilities as if you were married, apparently is not an option to other people who also proclaim to be free.

I don’t get it. It makes me wonder what “freedom” truly is. To me; it’s being able to travel wherever I like, being able to pay my half of all expenses to the home we bought (sometimes I make more, sometimes he makes more, but we share 50/50%), and to be able to make a conscious choice to work for a living, and not live for my work. Freedom for me is being able and allowed to make personal, conscious choices and NOT be judged for them. I truly think that here, in the NL, I can do whatever the fuck I like, provided it’s sane and doesn’t hurt anyone..

I’m aware that I am spoiled. Which makes it only so much more interesting to hear other opinions, so here we go:

What is freedom to you? How do you define it? How free do you think you are, and how happy are you with that freedom? 

ME_182_Freedom

Do what you love?

Via Do what you love? I found some wisdom about doing what you love and liking what you do. Definitely a post worth reading and more so; the essay that it actually is about.

“…How much are you supposed to like what you do? Unless you know that, you don’t know when to stop searching. And if, like most people, you underestimate it, you’ll tend to stop searching too early. You’ll end up doing something chosen for you by your parents, or the desire to make money, or prestige—or sheer inertia.”

I love this little piece of wisdom. For several reasons.  One of the reasons that I like this essay is that it describes how at a very young age we’re already expected in a way to choose what we want to do for the rest of our lives. And while that’s all good when we’re young, we might realize as adults that we didn’t quite know what we were doing at the time. A couple of years ago I decided to switch careers. Back in the days way back in my childhood I was always told that I  had to go do something with my drawing skills. I was good at it, so why not do something with it? I studied advertising and graphic design and after having worked in that field for 6 years,  I decided to quit and start from scratch somewhere completely new in a business field I’d never explored before. Because whilst I was good at what I was doing, it didn’t fit my personality. And it wasn’t making me very happy. This career change turned out to be the best choice I’d made in a long while. I recognize how this piece describes how you should never stop looking for that thing that’s going to make what you do enjoyable. Being in a job you don’t like can quite literally ruin your life. After all you’re spending quite a bit of your time on the job and if you work full-time like I do it can become quite the strain when it’s something that’s just not suiting your fancy.

Yesterday my friend Inspired Aspirations wrote about how she feels being an aspirant writer and whether or not she had to pull through with this passion, if she could even do it. She writes about how hard it is to continue when all odds are against you and when success isn’t automatically coming your way.  Even though something is your life’s passion. I think she’s doing it right; she’s pursuing her dream and though she might find it hard to continue I think that it’ll be worth it in the end.

…Whichever route you take, expect a struggle. Finding work you love is very difficult. Most people fail. Even if you succeed, it’s rare to be free to work on what you want till your thirties or forties. But if you have the destination in sight you’ll be more likely to arrive at it. If you know you can love work, you’re in the home stretch, and if you know what work you love, you’re practically there.

The long version of the actual post by Paul Graham can be found here for more inspiration. I hope that by re-posting it I can help others who feel they’re running towards a wall in a dead-end job. It’s never too late to start doing what you like. Enjoy!