When I'm listening to music, my iPod is usually set to play the latest songs (see all of my current obsessions on my YouTube channel), but for some reason, this week it started spinning some songs I hadn't heard in quite some time. When Jewel's "Life Uncommon" came beating through the speakers, I was drawn into the words I hadn't heard in years. She sang:
No longer lend your strength to
that which you wish to be free from.
Fill your lives with love and bravery
and you shall lead a live uncommon.
I'd always loved those lyrics, particularly the notion that we all too often lend our strength to what we wish to be free from. Some of us stay in jobs we hate, working late hours to appease someone else. Some of us force ourselves to make relationships work, limping along for for years with half-hearted hope. Some of us tolerate behavior that rattles us, convincing ourselves it's easier not to put up a fight. Some of us make choices based on what society deems "the right path," trudging along to keep pace with the norm.
We are often so busy lending our strength to the things we wish to be free from that we don't even realize we could choose a different path. We could live a life uncommon.
The trouble often lies in actually taking action—setting down the chains, speaking up for what you want, risking what you know for the uncertainty that comes with freedom. As uncomfortable as chains can be, they often seem better than freedom because they are familiar. But when we stay in a negative place, chained by someone or something else, we never give ourselves a chance to live life to the fullest, to lead an uncommon life.
If you find yourself in a place where freedom seems more like a dream than a reality, it's time to free yourself. It's time to live a life uncommon. To do so, you must...
BELIEVE IN FREEDOM.
Believe you can free yourself, difficult as it might seem. The unknown can be terrifying, but more terrifying is the possibility of staying chained in one (unhappy) place forever. It's tempting to listen to the nagging doubts, the I can'ts filling your heart with worry, convincing you to stay put. Shake off the doubt and believe you can be free from that which holds you back. Whether it's a person, a situation, or even a state of mind, you have to believe you have the strength to step away from that which strives to chain you down.
SET DOWN YOUR CHAINS.
Take action and set down those chains. Don't carry them around, weighing yourself down and lending all your strength to that which you long to be free from. Have the courage to put them down and walk away. Consider all of the energy and effort you've put into dragging that weight around and imagine what you could do with all of that energy and effort. Your strength is there; you've been using it to carry around those chains. It's now time to redirect it to securing your freedom.
FIND WHAT FREES YOU.
Often the reason you don't seek freedom is because you don't know what you will do with it. What work will you do if you leave your job? Who will you love if you leave your relationship? Who will you be if you're not following all of the rules? Identify what frees you—what you love to do, what leaves you feeling breathless with excitement, what never makes feel chained down—and focus on it with all your heart. Pay attention to what fills you with positive, happy feelings. That is your freedom.
Freeing yourself takes great courage (particularly if you've found yourself chained down for quite some time). Bravery is required to set down those chains and set yourself free. Changing (even when it's for the better) can be painful. You have to be willing to face some discomfort when it comes to breaking free. It might be a struggle, at first, to find exactly where your freedom lies. But don't back down in the face of uncertainty or difficulty. You deserve freedom and to find it you must be brave.
Setting yourself free is never easy, but it's always worth it. Some of us are held down by people or situations. Some of us are held down by expectations or attitudes. But none of us deserve to be held back or chained down. All of us deserve to be free to live the lives we long to be living.