There are many things to be said about freedom.  One of the most resonant for me though is that it is severely underrated.  And I do not speak on this occasion of the reasons and wherefores for incarceration.  It is more in regards to the personal and work related restrictions that so many of us inflict upon each other.  The ability to be ‘oneself’ is something that takes years to finely tune.  Some of us may think we are at ease with ourselves and possibly quite outgoing however, put us in a room with an older, more judgmental relative and a natural discomfort occurs when the questions on marital prospects or breeding probabilities are raised.

In essence, the liberty gained through the practice of being true to oneself should be the pinnacle of human desire.  Regardless of design, the ability to dress how you prefer, to work in a place where your talent is encouraged to flourish and to be loved unconditionally should be ultimately what we are all striving for.  Is it any wonder that some professionals turn self-employed due to the years of dedication for an employer that only restricts their possibilities, rather than allow them to bloom into something phenomenal?  Fear of the unknown and change are once again perpetrators for the censorship of such freedom of spirit. We instead must conform to an ideology of productivity, achieved through function and reference manuals.  Some of us pay vast amounts of money to attend merely a few weeks of such liberty whether it is at a festival or retreat with other kindred souls to then return to our daily lifestyles, focussing on the same trip the following year.  Or we wait for Halloween to release our inner vampire, complete with accent and dramatic outfit.  Instead we should look to manifest the joy at these events as a continuum, with the potential of 365 days of delight in what we do and who we are by seeking out opportunities to allow this.

I have been observing lately a bout of regression; we ponder on our past childhoods when things were simpler, we compare frayed photos for ‘Throwback Thursday’ nostalgia and we excitedly buy tickets to gigs for the multitude of reunion tours occurring.  Perhaps that is what occurs as one gets older, situations increase, for example, when subject matter that you raise amongst certain age groups is unknown and shockingly unheard of (‘You’ve NOT seen that film?? ‘You’ve never heard of them?? <cue sighs followed by zealous education>).

This behaviour is understandable though as it forms a basis for connection with others, allowing us to share quotations together (whilst posing with invisible sabers) and lose ourselves in ‘that’ song (which comforted you through ‘that’ awful adolescent heartbreak you thought would never end).  You can ‘be’ how you used to be although you still attach a label of geek or retro to such activities to somehow justify these actions, but why should you?  Why not just ‘be’?  Our backgrounds, cultures and age groups simply add to the eclectic gene pools we are all part of, London being one of the finest platforms for showcasing this.  I can walk down one street and not hear an English word spoken, to then turn down another scattered with accents of both local and regional British speak.  I look upon this not with fear but curiosity, as these communities still stay true to themselves through voice, dress and action.  And of course, this is why travel makes these feelings perpetuate, exposing you to different styles of food, life and tradition that you may have taken for granted on the National Geographic Channel.

As my parents would have agreed, a degree of discipline forms a foundation for a child who will always test boundaries under any form of jurisdiction.  As a child, we ‘can’ be ourselves as we do not know any other way (yet) to be.  As a child, life can be perceived as simpler as you are guided and taught by older and more experienced humans.  You follow by instruction and you learn by your mistakes. It is during this period in life we are told what NOT to do and how NOT to be.  Which is why being an adult is so much more fun because now you can question, with substance, ‘WHY?”.

And it is this question that echoes in our minds when we hear stories such as hospital staff in some areas of the UK being forbidden from having a coffee on a break due to the perception by patients that they are not working hard enough.  This is just one example of work-based dictatorship that does not include the number of other gasps produced due to dress, sexual orientation or (shudder) honest opinion.  We sometimes maintain a level of beige in daily situations because who knows what impact our true self might create.  However as we age, going through more experiments with human interaction to eventually (and hopefully) gauge a better idea of who we are, our knowledge should bring us to a point that we can be comfortable to just ‘be’ than have to substantiate our characters.  I still find myself apologizing for a faux pas here or there (that British concern of offending others no doubt), but that gut feeling we  really should be tuned into, is our physical reminder that we may have overstepped a line.

It varies for many, for some it may never fully occur, but there comes a point in life when we are surrounded by people who allow us to BE who we truly are.  We find a friend whose eyes shine as we tell them about our day, not judging but merely commenting on our humourous coverage.  We look forward to our working day due to the good we are allowed to reap through creativity and supportive colleagues.  We greet our lover and embrace in simple harmony, knowing that regardless of everything, the pride and respect you feel for each other surpasses expectation.  So often I meet people (and yes, occasionally myself too) that state they ‘think’ too much; over an email lacking annotation, a glance made without appropriate projection of facial expression, a verbal exchange with suspicious intonation.  In all of these cases, the concern over misinterpretation puts a huge amount of unnecessary stress on oneself.  So be transparent and ask questions!  Retain memory from situations that had a negative outcome and move on. Do not wile away hours pondering outcomes that probably do not exist anywhere outside your cerebral cortex.  Instead, stick to what you know and go forth, exploring this wonderful life further.  Your childhood self would agree.