Like most people, you have probably lived your life bowing down to the dictates of society. Straight out of college, you went for a master’s degree because that’s what people around you deem impressive.
Then you got an office job that requires you to sit in front of a computer for nine hours—and you did it all because everyone else finds it the ideal life.
Later on, you’ll probably get married and have kids because what else are you going to do? This is the standard way of living and you have to go with it. Or do you?
You probably don’t give much thought to the bigger life decisions you make. You let society direct your destiny. Before you dismiss this as an accusation, take some time first to reflect on your choices.
If your story is like everyone else’s and you’re completely fine with that, then you have been effectively brainwashed by society.
Think about your nine-year-old self. Remember how that kid used to gaze at the moon every night and promise that he’ll be an astronaut someday? That kid died when you chose to be one sheep in a flock of billions.
Don’t get it all wrong. This isn’t about being an outcast, a rebel or a lone wolf. Breaking free from the limiting bonds of society and living life on your own terms are not synonymous to ditching all social relations and becoming a one-man band.
True liberty is a lot more than that. If you want to know what freedom really is, you should first acknowledge that YOUR life is YOURS to control. Only you have the final say on how you want it to play out.
With that, take the following words of wisdom and discover your inner boss.
1. Live without apology.
It’s okay to be different—remember that. It’s okay to have different tastes, different goals, different ways of doing things.
You don’t have to apologize for the actions you do out free will. It’s your life, your rules. Don’t compare yourself to others — your story is different from theirs.
Yours is a unique one that only you can tell. It’s true that self-image is more important now more than ever. Because of social media, it’s harder to not compare and just be happy with who you are and what you do.
People have more power to curate an almost perfect public image that only highlights the positive. But if you really want to take control of your life, you have to understand that the only comparison you’re entitled to is a comparison against yourself.
Don’t try to be better than anyone. Instead, do your own thing and push your limits to the edge.
2. Choose consciously.
To be truly free, you need to recognize your power to choose.
There is no such thing as an obligatory action if you consider each move as an opportunity to choose consciously. No one can make you do something against your will if every decision you make comes from a place of conscious choosing.
For instance, you may not want to go to your best friend’s party because you’re an introvert and parties make you uncomfortable, but you go anyway because you have decided that your best friend is worth the trouble.
You can’t say, “I don’t have a choice,” because you know exactly what’s coming and you choose to face it. You’re exercising your freedom to decide for yourself even if you have to make a few compromises.
3. Actively search for freedom.
There is no such thing as luck. Everything you stumble upon is a result of the decisions you made in the past. You can’t run into freedom — you have to fight for it.
If you don’t like how your life is now, you need to make an active decision to change it. Don’t just passively wait for your big break because it won’t come until you do something.
Break free from the bonds that limit you. If it means saying goodbye to a few people in your life, so be it. Sometimes, you need to be alone for a while to get the right perspective, make the right move, and accomplish your goals.
For instance, your conservative parents may discourage you from going to the city to pursue your dreams, but you know that the city is where your biggest opportunities for success lie.
So despite their warnings, you will still go to the city, find a job, and rent a condo or apartment. You may not know how the city life is or how condo leasing works, but that’s okay because you’ll learn all your lessons as you move along.
Although it’s wise to listen to your parents most of the time, there will be a few instances when your dreams will scream louder than your parents’ fears. When that happens, all you can do is trust yourself and go with your guts.
4. Ignore all the negativity.
Your thoughts may be intangible, but they take shape in your mind to steer your actions and mold your destiny. If you let your thoughts gravitate to the negative, you’ll end up exhausted, shaken, and unproductive.
No negative thought is worth mulling over. The moment you focus all your energy on things that don’t do you any good, you throw yourself into a cage that is hard to escape from.
Sure, it may be tempting to plan how to get even with someone who bullies you, but being vindictive means going down a path that only leads to defeat.
Instead of pulling your thoughts and your destiny into the negative side of things, why not try to be an advocate of positive thinking?
Many studies have proven the effects of positive thinking to the brain. Ultimately, optimism leads to happiness, and happiness is possibly the best gift you can give yourself.
5. Know who are worth keeping.
To be a true champion of independent living, you need to surround yourself with people who support your freedom and individuality.
Assess the quality of your relationships and keep only those that enrich your life. Spend more time with people who share your values and guide you to the direction you want to take.
Conversely, reconsider your relationship with the people who give you nothing but disappointment. Perhaps it’s time to bid them farewell so you can start to live your life without toxicity.
6. Validate yourself.
Living on your own terms means living for yourself and not for others. You don’t need external validation to know whether you’re doing well or not.
Validation should come from within. Affirm your own worth and stop giving a cent what other people think.
It’s difficult to always live in the shadows of other people’s opinions and expectations of you. You’ve heard it a million times before: you can’t please everyone, so why bother?
In the end, it is you who will determine what path you’re going to take. There is no right or wrong way of living your life. There is only your unique way or the common way. It’s always your decision to make.
This article is written and submitted by Anna Rodriguez.
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