what does freedom mean to you?

what does freedom mean to you Stuti Ashok Gupta

Being a girl from a small town, from quite an orthodox family – I still can’t believe that I have been able to travel so much and start a business with three guys I met during my travelling days.

A lot of pain, tears and struggle has gone into it, but it doesn’t end. How much freedom is enough freedom? When do you know that you don’t need to fight for making your own choices?

I am always confused, honestly.

My brother is a constant reminder, like a bell tied to my neck telling me to be grateful. To be grateful that our parents let me do a lot of things that most parents won’t. But is that enough to calm this burning fire of breaking away?

I mean, it is not even funny, how many times I am told “How will you adjust once you get married?” and it makes me more furious. Why are women treated like cattle? Taken care of well, so they behave well in another’s house.

Am I asking for too much, I doubt myself constantly.
What is wrong in it, if I want to decide what is best for me?
If I want to travel, from the money that I earned on my own?
When I don’t want to be answerable for everything I want to do to someone else?
Why don’t parents trust themselves, and believe that they have raised us well, they have brought up with values to be an adult who can take their own decisions? We can take responsibility for both, our wrong and right decisions.

What is freedom after all? And why is freedom so expensive?

I have always been a good kid, all my life. Participating in all the extracurricular and still topping the exams in the school. I earned my freedom piece by piece, bit by bit. Like a barter, like an exchange. Every time I did something approving, and a little more freedom was rewarded to me. Every time I did something unacceptable, and it came at the cost of my freedom to make my own choices.

It was alright as a kid, but now as an adult, I feel my freedom is not someone else’s to give. It is mine. We have been conditioned so wrongly. To believe that our life is not in our hands, to think that we are a good daughter/son if we let our parents make choices for us. Society has been playing mind games with us, after all.

Because, I have learnt – only in the intellect, though – that our freedom is nobody’s to give. We can do whatever we want to – but of course, change is painful. It will come with its own cost.

There is no concept of “absolute” freedom, but we can at least stand up for what we believe in, for what we must.

[In my own struggle, it seems like I am living 1857 Indian Freedom Rebellion.]

A lot of you ask me “How do you convince your parents to let you travel?” and I have always avoided answering that question. Because there is no one right way.

I have logically explained to them sometimes, and other times, I have also lied. On a few occasions, I have cried my heart out to let me go and on other days, I just left because I had to. Slowly and gradually, when they understood that I was responsible enough to take care of myself on the roads, they trusted me more with my decisions.

From the time when my mother would ask me – “Who all are going?”, it has reached to “When will you come back?” [partly because I am mostly going alone]. You know what? I can see progress in the change of questions.
So, tell me what does freedom mean to you? How would you live your life if something or someone wasn’t restricting you to live in a certain way? I’d love to hear how freedom means different things to different individuals. Do you also think it has its cost? Have you paid for it, too?

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