Happy Independence Day 2023! This is our 77th Independence Day, marking 76 years of freedom from British rule. We may not greet our friends with Jai Hind. Or sing Vande Mataram every day. But on 15 August we feel a strong sense of pride that can’t be described in words or measured on a scale.
We owe our freedom to our brave freedom fighters. They had to lay down their lives so that we could be free. What we take for granted today was a luxury for them: being able to speak our minds, freedom to love who we want, follow the religion of our choice, right to education, and so on.
The definition of independence and freedom keeps evolving. Every individual defines freedom differently. And the same individual will interpret “freedom” in a different way every few years.
The proof is in the pudding, they say. We spoke to some BYJUites to test our theory of how the meaning of freedom changes with time and as one grows older. Scroll to discover their unique point of view.
At 16, freedom was a wild dream, an escape from curfews and constraints. Now, I see it as the ability to make my own choices, but also being responsible for them. Freedom is not about being selfish, but about being kind and compassionate. It’s like going from a solo performance to being part of a big group effort.
As a 16-year-old boy, my priorities, and hence the meaning of independence, were akin to that of any other high school student. This is the age when kids are trying to gain a sense of self. At that juncture, independence means autonomy over the things their parents decide for them. And among other things, I sought control over friendships, personal decisions, hobbies, etc.
However, as time progresses, we gain experience in different aspects of life. We become more responsible, endure personal and professional setbacks, explore other cultures, and that alters our perception of freedom. We start understanding the sacrifices that our predecessors have made, to ensure that we live and breathe in a free India.
Slowly, we start to pivot towards financial independence and saving for the future. For a 30-year-old, freedom is about having ample career options, growing in the field of their choice, building long-term relationships, and introspecting where they are headed.
Your definition of freedom may change with age, but nobody can tell you which one’s more vital. Every stage is equally important. You have to progress from one to the other to become a wholesome individual. Let the evolution happen organically, with zero stress.
My idea of freedom has changed with every phase of my life. When I was 16, my mom told me that I would have to go to my tuition class by myself. It was just a 5-minute walk from home, so it wasn’t a big deal really. But until that day it never struck me that I will be treated like a grown-up. I think in that one moment I experienced shock, fear, uncertainty, and more!
But with time I also understood that this is how I will learn to be independent. This is how I will be free.
In 2016, when I decided to move from my home town and pursue higher studies in Bombay, stepping out of my comfort zone was scary. I was homesick, but I snapped out of it and began taking charge of my life; planning meals, buying medication for myself when I was unwell, getting used to being by myself in a new city. Slowly, Bombay grew on me. I felt like a true “grown-up” experiencing bouts of freedom that came with a lot of accountability.
It’s been seven years since then and my idea of freedom has evolved yet again. When I was a teenager, my future was my parents’ responsibility. But that’s not the case anymore. I think twice before making a decision, even about the smallest of things. Because I know that while I am free to do as I please, today’s choices will have repercussions tomorrow. I can do what I want, go wherever I want, but I sorely miss those days when freedom meant a 5-minute walk to class.
At 16, independence meant the ability to make choices without restrictions, and taking decisions without consulting elders. Being able to pursue my personal goals was high up on the list, like for example, the freedom to hang out with my friends without any curfews.
But today, “freedom” encompasses a broader overview, including not only personal liberty but also social and political freedom, empathy for others’ rights, and the importance of responsibility in exercising freedom. With the passing years, I have grown to understand the true meaning of freedom and to apply the same in order to have a positive impact on the future.
I believe that is true of all of us. Over time, the concept of freedom evolves with greater awareness of societal complexities, recognition of the interconnection between individual and collective liberty, and understanding of the effect of our actions on others and the world at large.
How about you? Do you think you define freedom differently now, compared to 10-15 years ago? Please share your thoughts with us, via the comments section.
Whatever your idea of freedom, we hope you’re able to achieve it and can be a catalyst in others’ stories as well. Happy Independence Day!
(This story has been put together by Storyweaver, Neha Dua)
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