On the Anxiety of Freedom and Feelings of Inadequacy
We live in a time when most things we interact with seem... transient. Everything we own are constantly being replaced by newer versions, newer products, newer ideas. “Out with the old, in with the new” have become societal norms on a daily basis. Not only are we taught to revere change but we almost have no choice but to embrace it—day in and day out.
Raised as a third culture kid, I’ve had my own fair share of dealing with change and progress. Never feeling quite at home anywhere, my whole life has been a question of finding identity between cultures and countries.
My issue isn’t that I don’t know what my passions are, but a balancing act of “finding” myself in between societal, familial and individual expectations. There’s so much I want to do, so much I want to achieve, for myself, my family, and the greater good. There’s always something more I want to learn, to experience… but as a girl living in the shadows of patriarchal systems, I’m told that I’m too ambitious, too dreamy-eyed, too… idealistic.
Mom says I cannot "waste” any more time dabbling in too many things. Maybe she’s right, maybe she’s not, but either way I can’t help but feel selfish, guilty and confused for wanting too much.
No wonder I am forever feeling restless and inadequate. How do I make peace with myself and find fulfillment in my life knowing that one way or another I am going to neglect parts of my too-curious-and-too-fervent soul? In this very moment, I am living merely a singular version of me. What if I want to be all the things?
BUT I CAN'T BE ALL THE THINGS.
MUDDLING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN ACCEPTANCE AND RESISTANCE, I AM STILL LEARNING HOW TO LIVE WITH MYSELF FOR NOT BEING ENOUGH.
That being said, don't get me wrong—I am extremely thankful for the things I do have. For the roof over my head and the food on my table, I am lucky. More than anything though, I am incredibly grateful for my family. Despite our differences and squabbles, I know they love me and have my back when I need more support. That fact alone is more than anything I could ever ask for. As for everything else, if it's any consolation... at least the freedom of acceptance is mine:
I CAN NEVER CONQUER THE MOUNTAIN. BUT I CAN CONQUER MYSELF.
On any given day or week, a number of us are likely to dream about what might have been if we had chosen differently. Sure, there is no right or wrong answer, only choices, but how do we even begin to make such life-defining decisions "if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?” (Milan Kundera). I guess this is what Kierkegaard referred to as the dizziness of freedom.
Yet, I remind myself that the best I can do right now is to stay aware of my struggles but continue to sail the seas of my creative and troubled soul. I assume that finding peace within myself will be a practice of a lifetime.
"When I am able simply to be with things as they are, able to accept the day’s challenges without judging, reaching, or wishing for something else, I feel as if I am receiving the privilege, coming a step closer to being myself." -- Katrina Kenison