Lost in Freedom? The Dilemma of Having Too Much Freedom

Is too much freedom a dead-end-road? How does it feel to be stuck in too much freedom? This article describes the challenges of a generation born into too much freedom.

“Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from.” – Vernon Howard

Eike-Maria Hinz │eike.maria.hinz@gmail.com

Freedom has many facets: freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom of religion, the list goes on…. In modern western societies, these freedoms have been established, through clashes, conflicts and wars, which lead to the establishment of democracies, where the value of freedom is one of the greatest intrinsic values of society.

If we look at the young generations in western modern societies there is a dilemma with all these freedoms. What do I mean by this? One could argue that there can never be enough freedom on an individual and society basis these days. Yes and no.

“There is a dilemma with all these freedoms…”

Young adults enjoy a life of freedom in many areas of their lives. Not only that they are able to vote freely, speak out loud what they feel or think or choose their life partners liberally with no societal restrictions. They are also able to travel the world, connect via social media with more than half of the earth’s population, take and find jobs all over the globe, and make individual choices to have friends without any restrictions aside from individual choices.

How often do we hear from older generations: “When I was young I did not enjoy all those freedoms you have today.” Yes this is true, we enjoy a life where we decide what we study, where we go on vacation, which job we take, with who we spend our time and build a family. We create our own little universe, where only minor ‘restrictions’ shape the outcomes. With those restrictions I mean, personal interests, talent, sexual orientation and life style choices. Compared to former generations, this seems like the maximum of individual freedom: To study and do whatever job you like; to follow your passion, not your family obligation; to choose your partner out of love, not society or family duty; to live your life however you feel it is right. That is the “good-side” of having as much freedom as possible.

“In our little universe, we can do whatever we feel is right…”

Often, it is difficult to measure in our daily lives, how much freedom we have. However, it is not difficult to feel the downside of ‘too much freedom’. . There are so many options, opportunities and possibilities. So much to choose from and hence, so much to miss out on. That seems like a luxurious problem for a young generation that has too much to choose from. And that is the case. There is so much freedom that it is sometimes overwhelming.

“Too much freedom is overwhelming…”

Therefore, we find a generation that is well educated, highly skilled, with various interests and qualifications. But, the thing is that they are lost. This dead-end-feeling of too many choices and the fear to choose the wrong path is somehow also intrinsic in this generation. The combination of a very high level of individual freedom, an enormous number of possibilities due to education and skills and the fear of failure lead to a generation that ‘needs to find themselves’ in their mid twenties. Thus, we have friends going on world tours, volunteering in Ghana or meditating in Tibet.

I think it is the fear of being steady, of settling, of making choices you won’t easily get out of, that determines this feeling of being lost. Maybe this is the drawback of too much freedom, where we grow up without pre-determined paths of our life due to no restrictions existing of which work to do, who to marry and what life style to have due to obligation and duty. It is this freedom, to life without all the restrictions, which actually scares us and sometimes lets us feel a special form of being lost.

“A special form of being lost…”

Ways to deal with uncertainty, a high degree of freedom and the development of decision-making abilities is something that maybe is underdeveloped and hence leads to personal indetermination and a state of mind of being lost. This is the “bad-side” of too much freedom.

I can’t offer you a solution to this dilemma. But I think it is a good idea that we take a moment, appreciate the freedom we are born into and just make some major choices, go down one path and see where it leads us. We may fail, we may go down the wrong path. But one good thing is, as we have all the freedoms we could think of, we can always start over and begin something new. Because this is one side of freedom – it gives you the chance to start all over again.

“One good thing is we can always start over…”

eike2Eike-Maria Hinz, Contributing Writer 

From Germany, Eike studied Political Science and History at the University of Mannheim for her BA and started MA Euroculture in 2012. In her first semester, Eike discovered the cold snowy sides and the warmhearted mentality of Uppsala. In the second semester she experienced the fascinating cultural and historical richness of Krakow, where she will stay until mid 2014, when she finishes her degree. Eike gained great cultural and work experience during her internships at the EU Delegation to Thailand and the ZDF foreign office for Southeast Europe in Vienna. Her passions are traveling, ballet, food (cooking and eating with Chili on everything) and anything related to foreign culture, heritage and traditions.

3 thoughts on “Lost in Freedom? The Dilemma of Having Too Much Freedom

  1. The beauty of the abundance and longevity now typical in an advanced cultures is that a flexible intellect with an ability to adapt can make a diversity of choices and lead many lives that culminate in a sense of fulfilled purpose.

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