Something quite unthinkable has happened to me. I have returned to Europe, I have returned to a corporate job, and I am feeling incredibly happy about it! Actually, it feels like freedom.
People often ask me why I would want to give up my freedom and return to work. Why would I give up my life on a tropical island, far away, and return to Europe where it rains a lot and where the temperature hardly ever reaches high enough to wear loose dresses and flipflops. Why would I not want to continue waking up next to the ocean every day, but instead opt for spending my mornings in commuter trains to an office, similar office I so desperately wanted to leave four years ago?
The main question being: why would I want to give up my freedom?
So let’s talk about freedom
Freedom is the ability to choose for yourself and to follow your own course in life. Freedoms is having a passport (or two) which open up most borders without questions. Freedom is being able to travel, being able to jump on a plane and decide what country you would like to live in next. Freedom is about the feeling of self-regulation, responsibility and autonomy.
Freedom is the opportunity to leave when you want. To spend years on a tropical island, to experience boredom and poverty, and then leave it behind. Freedom is education, opportunity, possibility, future. Freedom is being able to work, getting hired, earning a good salary and having carefree lunches with colleagues.
Freedom, just like happiness, is a moving target.
Today freedom for me is being able to surround myself with friends who feel like family. To be able to choose to work, knowing that somewhere down the line there is an option to go again.
Freedom is to express ALL of me. The corporate, the writer, the creator, the traveler, the yogi, the adult and the child. For me balance and change is crucial. Stuck on any of these roles I would soon find myself imprisoned by the lack of other choices.
What do you want the most?
During almost every interview employers asked me the same question (with a confused look on their face): ‘Having done so many things, what is it that you want?‘
I find it a difficult question to answer because I want so many things, and because in this day and age one is still expected to settle, specialize and to choose a lane.
But darn it, I am free and this is my freedom. I am free to return to a 9-5 job and I am free to love it. I am free to being a corporate girl today, and something else, something new tomorrow. I will not apologize for not fitting into anyone’s box, I will not apologize if that makes anyone uncomfortable. Because I decide, and that is freedom.
So yes, one circle has come around, one big big circle, and I find myself back in the flat lands of the Netherlands, entering the yellow trains daily, this time with a smile on my face. Because I know how lucky I am to be able to be here, how fortunate I am to have a career I can jump back into when I choose to, how lucky I am to earn what I earn, lucky to be valued, loved and respected, living in a clean, organized and safe country.
And when this all stops amazing me, when it stops feeling like freedom, that’s the time to move again.
THIS is freedom. And it has very little to do with beaches and coconuts.