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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

To me, there is no feeling more beautiful than that of freedom. Exercising freedom, in whatever form, is synonymous with feeling alive. When I’m in a funk and need to be reminded of all the unique and exciting things that life has to offer, I look for ways to feel free. Freedom looks different for everybody, so allow me to explain what I mean by this. My idea of freedom is closely tied to spontaneity; that is to mean, when I’m acting spontaneously, I feel free. This spontaneity creates a kind of freedom that is free from the bounds of time, as it allows for a break from scheduling and a passive attitude towards time. It is also a freedom from thought, as engaging in spontaneous actions allows us to take a break from meticulous (and oftentimes stressful) mental planning.

Here are some experiences that make me feel free:

It may sound silly, but ever since I was 12 years old, I have been excited by walking. There is something so magical about having a built-in form of transportation, about realizing you do not need anything other than your limbs to get where you want to go. When I was young, it felt like my first piece of independence and power; my first taste of freedom. I could just take myself where I wanted to go without anyone else’s help. I could get to my friend’s house or to school or to the ice cream shop. I could explore on my own timeline with my own destinations in mind. Still, when I’m feeling stuck or searching for freedom, walking remains one of the most accessible outlets. Specifically, a solo, somewhat aimless, music-filled stroll helps put my mind at ease and gives me a moment to appreciate my surroundings.

Impromptu swimming. This may sound rather specific, but this provides me with an overwhelming sense of freedom. Let me set the scene: you’re hiking up north, it’s mid-October, and the air is letting out its last few drops of summer. It’s that familiar early fall weather; it’s never as cool as you expect it to be. You’re walking along, slowly shedding layers as you become warmer and warmer from the exercise. Just then, you lock eyes with the lake. It is shimmering in the sunshine. You didn’t bring a bathing suit or a towel—you didn’t plan to swim—but she just looks so inviting. So, you go in. You are not thinking about the branches that will stick to your wet feet as you climb out or the way it will feel to slide your sweater over your wet hair, you’re not really thinking about anything at all. You climb in and dissolve into the water. The coldness shocks your whole body but also brings you a sense of tranquility. Now that is freedom.

We all have sets of rules that we follow. We decide which colours look unflattering on us, we establish which foods we dislike, and the types of people we don’t get along with. For some people, these rules are most complex. Ideas of what you can or can’t say, or think, or be. Nevertheless, I feel free when I break my own rules. When I prove myself wrong about the person that I thought I was—when I stretch the borders of my personality.

Leaving my phone at home. This type of freedom is unbeatable. The feeling of being unreachable and out of bounds. The freedom to absorb moments without being dragged out. Though it’s hard for me to go out without my phone, I try to do it whenever I can, because I always appreciate the freedom it brings me.

Breaking routine. This one is more general, but finding little ways to break my routine when I’m feeling stuck or bored makes me feel more alive. Following the structure of a routine for too long can make me feel depressed and unexcited. I try to break my habits, even in small ways: occasionally buying my morning coffee instead of making it at home, trying new recipes, socializing with new people, and exploring new parts of my city.

Here is an abbreviated list of some more freedom ‘sparkers’: swing sets, boat rides, convertibles, stargazing, dangling feet, conversations with strangers, eating outdoors, running down hills or through fields, going out for dinner on my own, eating fruits that I picked, building a fire, dancing in an empty living room, cooking without a recipe, writing for the sake of it, and embracing the rain.

Freedom is worth chasing! It is the most powerful feeling that there is. Hunt for things that make you feel free and soak them up with every ounce of your being. Then collect them; make a list like I did here, and refer to it when you feel that life is tiring you out. Maybe my examples will help get you started!

Maya Gelfand

Queen's U '24

Maya Gelfand is a fourth year film and media student at Queens University.