My phone rang and it was the call I’d been expecting.
We talked about how I was, how she was, and other stuff I can’t remember. But I didn’t care anyway. Not right then. Right then I just wanted to hear the words that I knew would change my life forever.
“We will be accepting your application for voluntary redundancy.”
That meant I’d be leaving my 9–5 job, and I’d be leaving the corporate world, forever.
“Thank you so much,” I said.
As soon as the conversation was over, I put my phone down on the seat next to me, and I breathed out, and I let my head fall against the back of the seat.
“I’m free,” I thought.
That’s what I thought. That’s what I believed.
I felt giddy. I was free. Freedom. What did that actually mean? What was I going to do now?
I started by inviting someone I barely knew, but someone I liked, to my leaving party. And when I say “someone” I mean “a woman.” I was nervous about inviting her, but then I remembered I didn’t need to be nervous, because I was free now. I told her I wanted her to come. She did.
And then my last day came. And I gave a speech. I wanted to give an incredible speech but all I really did was cry. One of my friends walked me down the stairs and into the reception area so we could go outside. I still had tears on my face but there was no way I was going to hide. Not when I was free.
Sitting outside, on the bench, in the sun, with two good friends… those moments were full of freedom.
When I look back on those moments now, and how free I felt, that’s when I realise that freedom is an illusion.
Because… what was stopping me feeling that free any other time?
I’ll tell you.
Fear of what other people would think. Fear that people wouldn’t like me. Fear of showing people who I really was.
It brings me back to one of my favourite questions ever:
I wouldn’t have held back. I wouldn’t have hesitated. I wouldn’t have worried about what other people were thinking of me.
I would’ve been me.
Matt Hearnden is a writer from the UK. He mostly tells stories only he can tell. He blogs twice a week at www.matthearnden.com just self-published his first book:42. Matt writes every day because he loves it and because it stops him watching Netflix. And, probably more importantly, he plays basketball and has lots of tattoos. You can find him on Twitter, IG & Quora.
Image courtesy of Samuel Zeller