You were wrong. You were so wrong.

Everyone told you that this was the right move. This college, this job, this place, this person. You’re following the right steps and on the verge of major success. Once you’ve achieved it you’ll have finally arrived! The worries of the world will be void—financial woes, relationship problems, and all those other pesky life struggles like picking an insurance plan and deciphering the difference between a variety of multivitamins. These nuances will be for the people you’ve long passed on your way up the hierarchal ladder of success. You just have to follow the steps. Meticulously and without deviation. Then you’ll get there. The pinnacle. The point where you are totally and undeniably free.

But why do you feel stuck? Is entrapment a prerequisite to freedom? Besides, how would we really know peace if we’ve never experienced hardship? Yes, life is difficult at points. You’ll face many challenges. You will struggle. Sometimes you’ll be so tired that getting out of bed will be the biggest win of your day. The pitfalls of life are unavoidable. You can’t roll through the twisting and turning paths of life without hitting a few potholes or speedbumps.

But freedom? This thing that we long for and that we search for, often to no or little avail, is not something we’ll find once we reach a particular pay grade, or number of likes on a picture, or followers on social media. Climbing the ladder of success one bar after another only leads to more bars. We can’t ever get high enough, yet we keep climbing. We keep racing each other in attempts to win something that can’t be won. It has be discovered.

You see while you sit at your desk toiling endlessly under the workload in front of you, or stare longingly at the attractive person across the room wondering when or if they will ever notice you, you are actively missing the point. In your mind you have an idea of what you want. It’s sitting right in front of you. I want to get my work done as best I can so I can get that promotion and afford that vacation I’ve always dreamed about, you think to yourself.  I want them to talk to me so I can see if we ignite a spark. These are the things you want. But they’re not going to happen right now. You have to wait for the boss to pull you into the corner office to tell you a new position has opened up, you have to wait for them to look your way and lock eyes with you. These are the things you want. But they’re not going to happen. Not now. We can’t just take what we want. That’s silly. That’s not how life works.

But you’re wrong. You’re so wrong. That’s exactly how life works! The world is yours for the taking! You have to put in extra effort for the things you really want, but never wait for someone else to puppeteer your life while expecting them to hand you what you want. Book the ticket and tell your boss it’s time for that promotion you’ve been working for. If he says no, pack up your desk and take your vacation anyway. Walk up to that cute stranger and strike up a conversation, if it doesn’t work out be glad that you didn’t continue to live your life in an “I wonder” state of mind.

Your state of mind is invaluable. The decisions you make shape your destiny. Your mind is the only place in which you find the one thing that everyone truly wants in their life—freedom!

You see your life was never meant to be about the expectations of others. Yet we live in a way that caters to the demand of those around us. College, career, house, spouse. That’s the life! Though it’s not a bad way to be, it’s not necessarily the only way it was meant to be. The sooner you realize that the only things you HAVE TO do in life are the things that you WANT TO do, the sooner you’ll achieve freedom.

Some of your goals might be difficult to achieve. You’ll get kicked down, have sleepless nights, and wonder if it’s worth it. If it’s something you want with all your heart, it definitely is. Don’t wait for your dreams to show up on your doorstep. Work for them because you want them. Remember that freedom doesn’t come from the attainment of your dreams. Freedom comes from the decision to take on the challenge of your dreams—and that feels right. So right.

By Angela Maere