It has often been pointed out that one of the benefits of retirement is the freedom to do what you want, when you want, with whom you want. As I continue in retirement transition and creating new lifestyle habits, I’ve been struggling with my own perception of freedom. I recently saw a play where the main character followed a “Breaking Bad” approach to freedom in middle age! Is freedom really doing whatever you want, breaking any rules you want, with no worry about societal norms and no limits?
In re-evaluating my beliefs regarding personal freedom and making more conscious choices, the first freedom images that came were both positive (kite) and negative (shackles).
- I’ve always defined myself as a kite, tethered by a string, soaring to great heights of accomplishment. There is a feeling of being grounded in the tethering, of being connected and secure. Yet that kite, in order to soar to great heights, is controlled by someone else! When I think about letting go of the tether (untethered, complete freedom), there is a terrible fear of being out of control, swirling chaotically and crashing. Yes, for me complete freedom brings fear.
- I knew in retirement that we needed to move homes. In our previous house I had a feeling of being bound by shackles and unable to breath or move. With our new home, there is a sense of those shackles being unlocked. Yet, in a recent Intuitive Session, it came out that I still feel locked in the situation. I have the key, the lock is unlocked, but I have yet to break free and completely remove the shackles. What am I unwilling to let go of? There is still something – a feeling of control, a sense of responsibility, a fear of losing something?
What are my own deeply held beliefs about freedom? What exactly is freedom for a just-past-middle-age, early-retired, upper-middle class, law-abiding, recovering-workaholic, married woman?
In exploring “what is freedom”, I thought about risk taking, rules, being the good girl, and being in control.
- I value security and structure over adventure and risk-taking. I’m not a solo adventurer, but need the security of an adventure-companion. The kite tether! I fear unknown situations and unexpected change. And yet, mini-adventures are part of my retirement lifestyle vision.
- I like boxes and rules. I color inside the lines. I believe strongly that people need to play by the rules, as opposed to believe it’s acceptable to break the rules all the time, or simply ignore the rules altogether. But, I do want to bend the rules sometimes. Maybe color outside the lines just a little bit.
- I was always the good girl growing up – I did what I was supposed to do, excelled in school, & got and kept the good job; I was successful. It wasn’t a bad thing – we have our financial security because of it! I still struggle with what I think of as family and societal expectations. I am fearful of trying things for fear of failure; I rethink situations again & again when I could have done it better (if it didn’t meet those high expectations).
- I need to be in control. I am the keeper of the accounts, the planner, and the responsible one. It gives me a feeling of usefulness and I often think others cannot do it as well as me. I make stuff happen; I check it off the list. If I’m not being responsible, what is the use of me?
“The secret to happiness is freedom… and the secret to freedom is courage.”
What will I have courage to do what expresses a sense of personal freedom? How can I allow my Wild-Woman to emerge? How can I find the courage to become the Bohemian Chick, a spontaneous mini-adventurer, or just a bit of a bad girl…. with no laws being broken and no relationships being damaged?
Freedom exploration has created some new self-awareness, and maybe a little encouragement to get over my fear of complete freedom.
What do you do that expresses your personal freedom at this life stage?