I want to have an open conversation today — and I really hope you’ll join me!
I’m tired of being good, all I want is to be free.
When I say these words, how does it make you feel?
Does that line thrill you, the way it thrills me? Or does it scare you? Does it make you feel suspicious, or even angry?
I heard this statement a few months ago, from a friend of mine who is — simply put — one of the best people I know.
She has spent her entire life working hard every single waking moment to be kind, responsible, loving, forgiving, understanding, self-sacrificing, loyal, honest, decent, tidy, reliable, polite, and respectable.
And she’s exhausted.
Because none of this has left her feeling FREE.
Although her goodness is indisputable, her freedom remains frustratingly out of reach.
She’s starting to rethink the whole game. And when I saw the look on her face as she said this line — a look of gorgeous hunger, ferocious longing — I recognised myself in her words.
I recognised in her, my own hunger. I recognised my own ferocious longing. I recognised my own frustration that I am not yet as free as I wish to be…even though I know that I am a GOOD PERSON, dammit.
Here is what I want to ask you this Monday morning: What would happen inside your mind if you let go (just for a moment!) of trying to be a GOOD PERSON, and you imagined instead what it would feel like to be a FREE PERSON?
Don’t panic, everyone! It’s just an exercise!
You don’t have to change anything about your life today… I’m just asking you to imagine taking “good” off the table for a moment, and replacing it with “free”.
You all have limitless imaginations. Try to imagine it.
Imagine replacing “good” with “free”.
Would you have the same life?
Would you make the same choices?
Would you still be in the same relationships?
Would you have the same job?
Would you live in the same city?
Would your days look like they look now?
Would you feel the way you feel now?
Does this exercise make you feel thrilled and liberated and inspired? Or terrified and small? Or resentful and angry? Or some combination of them all?
I was talking about this concept the other day with my husband. We were talking about the prisons that people (especially women) put themselves into, which prevent them from living expansive and creative lives.
We were talking about the burden of perfectionism for instance, which becomes a highly polished prison, with golden bars. I quoted to him the famous John Steinbeck line: “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” We both delighted in the liberation of that line.
What if that’s the next step?
What if it starts with you spending years trying to be perfect, and then you give up on perfect, and just settle for being good?
What if that is the first step of liberation?
What if you gave up trying to be good, and just tried to be FREE?
When I think of the term ‘good’ – it is almost as if there is a universal standard based on either society, culture, religion, family or all four. Thus, within each ‘tribe’, all the “good” people will always look exactly the same because they are all following the same rules and they are all in agreement of what a breach of “goodness” looks like.
Freedom, on the other hand, will look different for every person.
My idea of freedom might look nothing like your idea of freedom. What looks like liberation to you might feel like a prison to me. What looks like total freedom to me, might look boring and weird to you.
What if you knew that you could be free, and that your own basic human decency would remain intact?
What if – at every big decision point in life — you did not ask, “What do the rules say that a good person would do in this situation?”, but instead asked, “What is my own truth?”
What if you dared to follow your own truth?
I don’t have any solid answers about this yet, but I’m fascinated by the question. This is the thought I am dancing with most closely in my mind right now. I can’t stop thinking about this idea, and I’m genuinely curious to hear your feelings about it… Be honest — what do you think?
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*Written by Elizabeth Gilbert, adapted by me with personal examples