The Trap of “Freedom”

In a recent video, the famous YouTuber “Freelee” said that freedom is her highest value.

And this made me reflect on the topic of freedom because I also used to think that freedom was my highest value.

Until I realized that it could be a trap.

Why? Because putting freedom as your highest value is self-limiting and can quickly turn into a prison.

It might sound strange to say that freedom can become a prison, because to most people, having more freedom only seems to be a positive thing. So let me explain.

For years, I valued freedom so much that I designed my life around it.

I enjoyed having a work that gave me so much freedom. I could work from anywhere! I didn’t have to settle down. So I took advantage of this and traveled. I never stayed in one place for more than a couple of years. I made sure that I never fully committed to something that would restrict this precious freedom.

Then I realized that freedom is a pipe dream. To have more freedom, you have to give up certain things that are also precious in themselves.

For example, you have to give up the security of a job to experience the freedom of the Internet lifestyle. It’s not that security is more or less important than freedom. You just have to be aware what you’re giving up and what it means to you.

When someone brags about how much freedom they have, such as digital nomads who roam the world with a laptop, remember that they’re not as free as you think! They still have to work to make a living, and they have to maintain this illusion of a perfect life for their followers to buy their product. It can be a lot of pressure.

This debate around freedom is not new.

Many philosophers understood that more freedom doesn’t necessarily result in more happiness. It’s a source of anxiety! Why? Because having freedom means having to make more choices. And having to make more choices means you’ll never be sure whether you make the right one at any particular moment.

Should I live in this city or that city?

Should I spend my life with this person or that person?

Should I have children or not?

Is my work fulfilling? Should I do something else instead?

You can see the types of questions that come from having “too much freedom.” And constantly having to decide among so many options means that you never feel content with what you have. You’ll always worry about having made the wrong choice.

So if it’s not freedom, then what is it about? Why should you give up the security of a job to try to design an Internet lifestyle?

Two things come to mind:

Cash and doing what you love!

First, don’t give up your day job just yet. You may or may not be thrilled about your job. But it’s okay to have a job if it puts food on the table. Your first goal will be to have a hobby that pays.

But… you may also want to fulfill your potential in other ways: Express yourself. Feel like you’re contributing — that you’re part of something. And do something you love!

When you start with a desire to be part of something you care about, you’re coming from the right place.

The next step is to try to make it profitable. Because this is a much more tangible form of freedom that gives you more options to enjoy your life and contribute to help others.

Finally, you have the flexibility of the Internet lifestyle — the so-called “freedom.” Being able to work from anywhere, travel the world, or whatever you’re into. This part is cool, and can be a lot of fun! Just don’t put it as your main focus and value. You have to start by doing something you care about and focus on making it profitable.

The rest will fall into place!