By Bo Brummel
I belong to the generation known as Millennials, which includes everyone born between the year 1981 – 1996. Growing up I quickly came to the realisation that the choices and freedom my generation has are way more abundant than 40 years ago. Most people lived where they were born, worked there and got married to someone near them. It was not this idea in particular that scared me, it was the predictability of life, and the fear of living a short and unfulfilled life that stimulated me to live my life in a different way. Of course, I am fully aware that as a female born in the ‘90s I can’t be more grateful for my rights, opportunities and freedom. Historically, the female gender has always been marginalised, but things have changed and are still changing. Women’s empowerment groups and opinions are heard more than ever before; promoting self-love, equality and stimulating decision making. Decisions that will give independence; independence that makes us feel empowered; empowerment that allows us to take control; and taking control of our lives allows us to feel free. But does ultimate freedom exist?
Growing up in The Netherlands I had access to a great educational system. I turned out to be a good and ambitious student, and at the age of 20 I already graduated from The University in Utrecht as BsC in Psychology. While my co-students continued in their careers and romantic relationships, both ended for me and I started to question myself about what I really wanted in life. I realised that we are taught that early in life we have to make some ‘big choices’ that are long lasting: what car to buy, what house to buy, what career for 30+years and what spouse we will live with the rest of our lives. At the age of 20 I felt the problem that more Millennials experience, dealing with already so many choices in regard to the rest of my life. I decided to postpone those decisions for 6 months and instead do something else I feared so deeply. And so, a few weeks later, I found myself alone, terrified and crying on my flight to Asia questioning myself why I decided to leave.
Over the last 3 years I lived and worked in various places in the world. I met some amazing and inspiring people and saw the most beautiful places. Very often I have stepped out of my comfort zone and did things that I felt so uncomfortable doing in the first place. Those things brought me the most happiness and made me so proud of myself. I drove a motorbike through Vietnam, moved to Australia, started dancing, worked as a horseback rider, volunteered on a whale shark boat, worked my first corporate job and lived 5 months in a ski resort in France. My life has been an adventure with a lot of ups but also downs. Very often I have people describing my life as unstable, unsecure and hectic. The expectations that people have about “how life should be lived” can make me insecure and scared. Despite the fact that I am still young, I do feel that people judge me for “not knowing” what to do the rest of my life. Often I feel pressured by the expectations of people to get a job and work on a career.
I agree, my life can be very insecure. I never know what tomorrow will bring, or often where I will stay overnight, but I really try to live life like everyday could be the last. That feeling of pride every time I find myself in another amazing place, surrounded by great people or sometimes all by myself, brings me so much happiness. Those feelings of happiness, pride, freedom and independence are overwhelming to me and I cherish those moments. Am I still scared? YES! But I believe in myself and strongly believe that getting outside of your comfort zone is the best way to get to know yourself. I try to live with no regrets and try to love myself the way I am. In life there is only one person that you really have to be with for the rest of your life and that’s yourself.
For me, ultimate freedom isn’t travelling, it is the feeling that, no matter what, we always have the opportunity to choose how we live life on our own terms. Because of this, freedom goes hand in hand with happiness. I am forever thankful for life and will enjoy it as long as I can. Where the road will go next? No one, including myself, knows. But no matter what, I will try and welcome it in whatever way it comes, all the ups and downs included.
Chiara is the founder of CIIARA. A French-born Vietnamese living in Melbourne. Passionate about dance, fashion and social change.