Choosing Our Reactions Is The Only Real Freedom We Have


Recently, while talking to a friend of mine about how unpredictable and volatile life can often be (especially as a 20-something) he said something that blew me away.

After listening to my lengthy spiel about abrupt changes and wild people who have entered and disrupted my Zen bubble, he said to me: “How we react to something is the only real freedom that we have.”

In the past month, I’ve given notice at my corporate job – walking away from an appealing position at a fashion label that so many girls my age would kill to work for. While seeing out the last leg of my time here before moving on entirely a more artistic career path, my seemingly normal roommate went completely insane (nothing short of American Psycho, figuratively). After weeks of his unexplained erratic behavior and his threatening text messages that seemed to have come out of nowhere, I had no choice but to vacate my beloved apartment and move back to my parent’s warming abode – completely against my will and deviating from my original plans.

At first I felt angry that all of these things were happening, outside of my control yet they were able to affect my life in such significant ways. I was sad to lose a friend from losing my roommate, and I began to feel oncoming anxiety from the job transition in the midst of this crazy storm.

But one night alone in my empty apartment before moving out, I discovered something new, something significant that I had never known before. Caught up in a fit of extreme disappointment, I turned on some Ben Howard and just laid down on the hardwood floor. I slowed and steadied my breathing, as yoga classes have often encouraged in the past, and cleared my mind entirely of all that was going on.

Fifteen minutes of closed eyes and a cleared mind allowed me to process all of these things in an entirely different way. The moment my eyes opened again, I saw things in a whole new light.

As a young adult, things are constantly coming our way – sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes neither good nor bad. The abundant amount of people who we meet are each meant to give us something and I am compelled to think that that something is usually something positive.

Taking a moment to accept it all in allowed me to replace my animosity with gratitude for all the wonderful things that I’ve been given in the past twelve months. Just because the living situation ended badly with my roommate did not mean that the months that were great did not bring me happiness to no ends. And the anxiety that ensued from the career change is such a small inconvenience compared to the endless potential that my future holds, now that I will not be tied down to a full time desk job anymore.

Despite everything that has happened against my will, I am most grateful for the freedom to have chosen, then re-chosen my reaction to it all. My heart feels full and light now as I trek towards even greater unknowns and I hope that yours does too.

image – Erin Kelly