This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2. Curious about this challenge? See what I wrote on Day 1!
That’s a pretty big word, right? Growing up in the US, a lot of people said my country was great because we have “freedom”. Freedom from what exactly? Are we free of an oppressive government? Is it because we have freedom of the press? What about the freedom to own a gun?
I think no matter how much “freedom” we have, as humans, we always want more.
Do you want freedom from debt? How about the freedom of travel? Do you want to be free of your responsibilities? Free from depression or anxiety?
Freedom From the Office
Travel bloggers, including myself, LOVE to talk about being free from the 9-5 office job. The freedom to travel and work from wherever you want. The freedom to afford traveling around the world. The freedom to determine your own hours, your own vacation days and your office environment. The freedom to say yes to opportunities, be your own boss, and manage your own schedule.
For me, I hate being dictated by heavy-handed rules and policies. I’m more than happy to give up paid vacation days for the ability to travel whenever I want. I need to be in charge of my own schedule and dictate my own tasks. I want the freedom to say no to the pointless activities my job assigns me.
I want the freedom to say yes to opportunities and projects that inspire me. I need to write things that make a difference. I want the freedom to learn and grow.
My Current Lack of Freedom
I currently work as a college counselor in China, where I sit in my purple office from 10am-7pm. I have a ton of vacation days, but I need to ask permission to use them. I have no control over my schedule. I don’t have the option to work from home, even if I have no student meetings. I’m not allowed to come in late or leave early, even if I have no tasks left for the day,
The few suggestions I’ve made have never been implemented. Working for a Chinese company, my boss does things her way, and we merely nod our heads in agreement. I have no say in the overall progression of the company, and I’m pretty sure my boss would have me work 6 days a week with overtime if I didn’t put my foot down.
So why not just quit?
Well, firstly I’m not currently making enough money through this site and other projects to support myself. Secondly, I have $10,000 USD in student loans to pay off.
Every time I get frustrated, I have to remind myself that my office job is a stepping stone on the path to freedom. Once I have my student loans paid off, I’ll have the financial freedom to start my own business. Hopefully, by that point, I’ll have figured out how to make enough money to support myself.
What’s Wrong With Me?
Until a few months ago, I used to wonder why I couldn’t just work in an office like a normal person. I couldn’t understand why I was so restless and frustrated by the heavy-handed rules most bosses use. Why am I so inherently opposed to routine? Why do I feel like sitting in an office every day is killing my soul?!
Every time I stare at an inbox full of college essays, I can’t help but imagine I’m exploring Kyrgyzstan or horseback riding through Mongolia.
Well, I had a huge wake-up call when I took the 16Personalities Myers Briggs Test. While I usually think personality tests are kind of BS, this in-depth analysis of my personality was life changing.
You know a personality test is good when none of the other 15 personalities sound like you in the slightest.
My personality type is ENFP– Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.
I learned so many things about myself from taking this test that I’ll have to do a full post on it later. But the main thing that stuck out to me, is the reason why I need freedom in my life. There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just one of 16 very distinct personalities that thrives on independence!
Just look at some of these quotes from my personality profile.
“Can’t I fly helicopters AND be an oceanographer who writes songs and cooks?” It’s a big world out there for ENFPs – perhaps even a little too big.
If there’s a challenge ENFPs face when selecting a career, it isn’t that they lack talent or options or drive, it’s that there are so many things out there that are just cool.
ENFPs’ self-esteem is dependent on their ability to come up with original solutions, and they need to know that they have the freedom to be innovative – they can quickly lose patience or become dejected if they get trapped in a boring role.
ENFPs are fiercely independent, and much more than stability and security, they crave creativity and freedom.
ENFPs loathe being micromanaged and restrained by heavy-handed rules – they want to be seen as highly independent masters of their own fates, even possessors of an altruistic wisdom that goes beyond draconian law. The challenge for ENFPs is that they live in a world of checks and balances, a pill they are not happy to swallow.
It’s hard for ENFPs to maintain interest as tasks drift towards routine, administrative matters, and away from broader concepts.
Where ENFPs do not shine is in systems of strict regimentation and hierarchy. ENFPs thrive on the ability to question the status quo and explore the alternatives, and if this is a quality that is not just unappreciated but actually frowned upon, this will not only make them unhappy, but it may even threaten their emotional stability. Repetition, predictability, boredom…
It may come to pass though, that the best way forward for ENFP personalities is to establish themselves as entrepreneurs and consultants, blazing their own trails and taking on whatever project is most fascinating.
Oh… it all makes sense now.
There’s Nothing “Wrong With Me”
Before reading about my unique personality, I wondered why I couldn’t just be normal. Am I just too flightly to stick to a job? Am I that typical self-absorbed millennial everyone complains about?
But then I realized: If I’m flighty, why have I been living in China for 3 years? If I can’t stick to anything, why have I been writing this blog for over four years? If I’m not hardworking, how is that I’m fluent in Mandarin Chinese?! I HAVE A MASTER’S DEGREE.
But sometimes when I compare myself to people who are much less fortunate than me, it’s hard not to judge myself. Who am I to complain about my lack of freedom, when there are people who can barely feed themselves? Why am I whining about turning down press trips when there are people who will never even get to leave their home country?
Talk about #FirstWorldProblems.
Fulfilling My Potential
To quote Hillary Clinton, everyone has the right to live out their “God-given potential.” Seriously, she says this in just about every speech.
What does this mean? Well, I think if I forced myself to stay in an office job long-term, I wouldn’t be fulfilling my unique potential. I want the freedom to actually use my talents. I want to use my unique strengths to make the world a better place.
For now, I try to encourage people to take a risk and travel to a country they weren’t previously comfortable visiting. I hope that I’ve made other young women feel less alone in their decision to travel solo or live abroad. I strive to break down the cross-cultural barriers between China and the West and show that China’s not as different, dangerous, or intimidating as the media portrays it to be. Finally, I hope something I’ve written has resonated with you and made you feel like someone understands you.
I know that eventually this won’t be enough. I can definitely see myself working on social documentaries or for a non-profit in the future. Knowing me, it will probably be something with global women’s development. Maybe I’ll actually make use of my international affairs degree and work for the government as a foreign service officer when I’m more mature and responsible. Who knows!
The main point is that I want the freedom to live out my potential.
I want to make use of my unique strengths and actually make a difference in this world. Knowing me, it probably won’t be in an office… and you know what? That’s okay!
What do you think? What’s your definition of freedom?