Earlier today, I had a very candid conversation with one of my followers on Twitter that made me think about overall happiness in life, and the things that restrict us from it. So many things came to mind, but when the word “autonomy” came up, I knew I had to write about it. I contribute my overall happiness first, to being able to recognize that there is a higher power than self. That the universe and all that may be spiritual within it, guides me through life. But second, I contribute my overall happiness to the autonomy that I’ve acquired throughout my life journey.
My ex-girlfriend and I used to have watch parties for the series “The L Word” like 10-12 years ago. As much as I thought I was living a life of freedom, I was shaken up a bit when one of the characters, Tina, was trying to "find herself". She had been so caught up in everything, and everyone, but herself and it showed. She was married to a beautiful and powerful woman, they were financially stable, I believe they’d had a child by then; on the outside looking in all people could see was a lesbian couple truly living the dream. But Tina struggled with overall happiness. She wanted things for herself that no one seemed to understand, and kept it all bottled up in effort to comply with what everyone else wanted for her. That is, until she couldn’t take it anymore and finally started to “do her”, which ultimately lead to some very awkward and uncomfortable times with people she loved. The one part of the series that I will never forget was when Tina yelled “I want my autonomy”. It was like an awakening for me. Because like her, all my life I’d done what everyone else wanted me to do (aside from dating women for those few years lol). As I thought about it over the next few days I became angry. Not only at other people, but at myself, for living to achieve social status and other people’s dreams for me, instead of happiness. Because that’s all it was about. Social status. Everything I seemed to have wanted, and everything that everyone wanted for me, at the time, was related to social status.
So, after the breakup from hell and the move back to my home town in 2007, I decided to truly search within and find what would make me happy. After two years of being socially static, I found that I simply needed to strive for living in a state of autonomy. I needed to break the chains of doing what everyone else did. There was no more room to simply go with the flow. I needed to live for myself, as selfish as that may sound. I beat myself up over that “selfishness” too, but in the end, I realized that I am the only person on this earth that could govern my happiness and I was determined to do just that. All those years ago, I promised that I would not involve myself in things that did not contribute to my own happiness, and today I still adhere to that promise.
That being said (in relation to the conversation that I was having earlier), it is so hard to see people who, because of circumstance, won’t entertain being in a state of autonomy. I often wonder if they realize that those circumstances will be there whether they decide to engulf themselves in them or not. Autonomy does not come easy. There will be casualties of war, but all that is lost is nothing compared to being freed from things and people who are unnecessarily, and even indirectly, controlling your happiness.
*freedom from external control or influence; independence.
Read that definition as many times as you need to. Let it sink in. Then ask yourself, “Am I truly free from external control or influence”? If they answer is no, list the things that are controlling and influencing you to live life the way that you to. From time to time, take a look at that list. Once you are in tune with the reasons why, there’s a good chance that you will gather up the courage to start eliminating them. As each one falls off, the closer to living life autonomously you will be. Trust me. I've been there.