Freedom is a tricky word, one that often gets tangled up in my head.
Some see it as a concept associated with youth, being young. I find this strange, as a young person, because I often associate freedom with being older, grown up, and out on my own, making my own choices.
However, I will say there is a certain type of freedom that might not be unique to all youth, but at least begins here.
It’s hard to put my finger on, but I think the association of freedom with youth has something to do with time. The more time one lives, the faster time seems to go by and, as such, when young, it seems there are more hours in a day.
Maybe this is true.
While schoolwork and school days do take up a major portion of time, outside of school and homework, there is that certain kind of freedom that comes before one has to worry about things like jobs or grocery shopping or real chores.
It’s that kind of freedom that means it’s okay to say yes when someone asks to make plans spontaneously.
In early youth especially, sure, you might need to ask your parents, but it’s okay to go out with the neighbourhood kids for no real reason other than just to be out.
Being out, outside, that is a kind of freedom that is sometimes lost to the obligations of being a teenager or an adult.
The fluid freedom from nagging obligations is maybe what makes youth, and childhood specifically, seem free. There are generally fewer worries. The worries there are, generally don’t continue after they’re resolved. (Unlike grocery shopping, a task I despise … as long as I’m alive, there will always be grocery shopping to do. Forever.)
I can’t say exactly why I thought it was important to point out the freedom of youth. Maybe it’s because I’ve become aware that it’s limited. The special freedom I have to spend Friday and Saturday nights with friends won’t last forever. There will be graveyard shifts to work, papers to write, research to conduct, kids to mind.
Despite this, there are new freedoms to be found, ones I see as coming along with “adulthood,” whenever that’s supposed to begin.
Freedom is tricky. It shifts and it changes as the years go by. At first, maybe freedom was being able to stay up late to watch a favourite TV show. Then maybe it became the ability to sleepover at a friend’s house. Later, perhaps it was the ability to drive. Now, for me, it’s being able to travel on my own, see new things.
And, maybe, someday soon, the definition of freedom will change again for me. I’m okay with that.
Maybe freedom will become something like living in my own apartment or my own house. Sure, that means grocery shopping, but it also means decorating everything however I’d like, hosting friends whenever I’d like.
Freedom will change. I know that change means I’ll discover more freedoms as I come to them, like treasures to be picked up along the way as others, once treasured, are left behind.
Marlowe Evans is a student at the University of New Brunswick from Maple Ridge who writes about youth issues.