F is for Freedom. Freedom is the very core of self-fulfillment and as such, it is the cornerstone of happiness.
There are several types of freedom, all equally important and some taken for granted by those, like me, who are lucky enough to enjoy them: freedom of speech, of education, free elections, possibility to freely travel the world, just to name a few.
But there is another kind of freedom, which I would call inner freedom: it’s very powerful, once you have gained it, but the path to conquering it is often erratic.
It’s a duplicitous freedom: one side, it is the freedom of deciding to become the person you want to be, but on the other side, it is the freedom of accepting who you are, with flaws and qualities alike.
Although seemingly antagonistic, those freedoms in fact complement each other: because you cannot be who you want to be without first accepting who you are at the moment. At the same time, there is no acceptance without a plan to evolve as human being.
But as all the good things, these freedoms do not come – ironically- for free. They often require to break the chains of years of education, to be able to decide whether you want to live in accordance with the values your parents taught you or not, or even create your own set of beliefs. They demand you to stop being framed by sometimes millennial conventions, or by more recent standards you did not chose, you did not want to adopt but there you are, living in full conformity with something you don’t even believe in.
They also ask you to stop looking at yourself only with somebody else’s eyes: it is rewarding, sure, to see admiration, friendship, and love in the eyes of those who surround you. But it’s a dangerous game, with unwritten rules and full of perils: because it takes a split second to be so concerned to please the others, to start adapting who you are to whom you are talking to. Eventually, if there are enough people you are trying to please, you might end up one morning, look at yourself in the mirror and see a kaleidoscopic composition of thousands of fragments, all the roles you played for the others, instead of your full self. And if you have played long enough, you might not be able to compose the jigsaw back to a complete you, in your full, beautiful integrity, and your true self will be so hidden that you might not find it anymore. And if freedom is the core of happiness, not knowing who you are is the supreme jail, a jail where you might be serving a life sentence, where you can only obey the orders, do what you have to do because you are expected to, no personal growth, no empowerment. And the longer you remain in that cell, the harder it becomes to regain your freedom.
And in the end, what is freedom if not the possibility of being human, with all our imperfections, and to love it?