Liberty noun :
“ the quality or state of being free-Merriam Webster Dictionary
When’s the last time you felt your lungs fill with air? When’s the last time you played dress-up with your kids? When’s the last time you jammed out to your favorite album like you used to? When’s the last time you saw an old friend? When’s the last time you had a romantic date with your significant other?
Many of you reading might say:” Not too long ago”, in which case I’m happy for you, but let me ask you then, why? Did you feel the need to unwind? Were you trying to show love and appreciation? Were you missing things you used to do before that made you feel like you? Now let me ask another question, though I must admit it’s a bit of a setup. How were you able to do these things?
Adult life is filled to the brim with responsibilities and duties, you have to pay the bills, take care of yourself, take care of your children, look presentable, maintain relationships, commute, work, and so much more. When do we ever get a chance to just be ourselves? A couple of months ago the answer would have been simple: “We rarely do”, but ever since the spread of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic things have changed, and one could say for the better. Yet, the question remains, how were we able to find the time to break the norm and start doing things our way? Was it simply remote workers ditching work in order to have fun at the expense of their responsibilities? Was it better time management? Before answering this, let’s talk a bit more about the impact of remote working.
In the last year or so, we have seen massive appreciation of remote-based work from those lucky enough to partake in it. People have reported being happier, less stressed, and more productive. In other words, they have felt free from the crushing weight of societal and professional expectations. Without a higher-up looking over your shoulder all day, a lengthy and excruciating commute, or an uncomfortable tie around their necks, remote workers have been able to enjoy the work they do, and also to do it in the way that’s best for them. The worker has been united with the person, leaving behind the common struggle of having to choose one over the other, and it truly stems from something quite simple yet feared: freedom.
Look, if what you’re interested in is finding another article that is reporting COVID-19 statistics and debating whether the impact it has had over the market and the professional scene is detrimental or not, this article simply isn’t for you. We’re not looking to show complex graphs or shove numbers in your face in the hopes of coming across as smart, our intent is to be honest and to be human.
The truth is for a very long time being a “professional” meant subscribing to certain ideals and standards. It was a choice one had to make between two identities: the person and the professional, and it started from the moment we went to the job interview. Being a professional meant being phony, it meant trying to impress everyone you met through achievements that don’t define you, it meant selling yourself as a product in hopes that the big fish would be impressed and thus you would “move up” in life. This cat and mouse game has led many down a rabbit hole of stress, anxiety, anger, resentment, that results in the person exploding into emotional chaos that’s harmful to themselves and others.
And this is evidenced by the way our culture operates. When someone asks: “What do you do for a living” nobody answers with their favorite hobbies, or with the things that make them happy, instead they answer with their job title. Think about that for the moment. It seems simple, silly almost, but it’s taken for granted that when prompted with asking what you do to live, one answers with work. How ridiculous is it to believe that the sole reason humans exist, either by God or evolution, is to make money, colored paper with numbers on it, and worse of all some people don’t realize they’ve fallen into the trap.
While it’s true that not every professional relationship is as dire or extreme as some of the examples given here, one must acknowledge that this is the reality of a vast majority, and it’s not a recent thing either. This problem can be traced back to the times of our recent ancestors, yet we still haven’t solved it, and here’s why. Most people don’t want to.
It’s easy to let someone else define you, to fall into pre-established molds, to do what everyone else is doing, it’s not easy however, to be yourself. In the words of Socrates: “To find yourself, think for yourself”, talk about a hard task. This is where I think quarantine comes in.
For months on end, most people had nothing to do except work during quarantine, but eventually, even that became tiring. With nothing to do, and nowhere to go we were left to face the scariest monster under the bed: ourselves. All those pesky flaws and deep insecurities we tend to bury deep down came out to greet us face to face, and the one thing to do was let it bring you down or find a way to come to terms with it. For those who bit the bullet and faced the reality of themselves head-on, another thing happened, all the things they loved about themselves also presented themselves, and they could dig deeper into them. Old hobbies, deep passions, unexplored interests, teeming curiosity, coming to remind us why we’re unique in some ways and similar in others. The idea of who we are became clear, and with it came a shift in priorities.
If there’s anything good to take away from this pandemic, I believe that reclaiming property of the self is the most important lesson we could’ve asked for. It was the circumstance that awoke this digital liberator, but now it’s up to us to remain free.