I Fetishized Freedom — And Now I’m Miserable

A warning to those who seek the same.

I Fetishized Freedom — And Now I’m Miserable cottonbro studio, NicoElNino | Canva

Something struck me today. For the past six months, something has nagged away at me. I thought it was burnout, worries about buying my first home, or something else I couldn’t put my finger on. But now I see it for what it is: I’m bored with my life and where it’s heading.

This is painful to write. Even just reading that sentence makes me sad. Since 2019, I’ve wanted to ditch the 9–5 and forge my path. My goal was to make a living online, sell digital products, and work from anywhere, anytime.


And I did it. But now that I’ve reached the summit, I’m kinda like meh. It hasn’t satisfied me like I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong; the climb was thrilling. I was breaking new ground, working with clients, and making more money than I knew what to do with. Nothing’s changed on that front. Except everything’s changed.

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My girlfriend and I broke up about four months ago. We were together for 3 years. This is the first time I’ve shared this publicly because it’s painful to think about. So there’s that. But my views on freedom — especially scheduled freedom — have also changed. For the longest time, I fetishized having a blank calendar. Even as recently as last month, I was posting on LinkedIn about all the white space.


But in reality? I’m bored. And doing the same things over and over and over again makes me question what it’s all for.

“You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.” — David Goggins

Freedom has left me feeling empty.


I was brainwashed. I consumed so much content about “freedom”. Traveling the world with zero responsibilities and drinking in fancy bars — that was my dream. I put it on a pedestal. And I’ll be frank: Doing this for the first time is exciting! But once the freedom rush wears off, you’re left feeling naked and alone. Those empty Airbnbs with glorious aircon drone out the little voice in your head that asks, “What’s next?” You know there must be more to life than this.

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In The Second Mountain, David Brooks talks about university graduates entering the real world: “96% of 18–24 year-olds agree with the statement, ‘I am very sure that someday I will get to where I want to be in life.’ But the present is marked by wandering, loneliness, detachment, doubt, underemployment, heartbreaks, and bad bosses, while their parents go slowly insane.”

So many graduates turn to travel — myself included. They rack up experiences before “real life” settles in. And while these experiences are fun to talk about at parties, they’re like a can of Pringles. They leave you wanting more.


“Such a person schedules a meditation retreat here, a Burning Man visit there, one fellowship one year and another one the next […]

“Your Instagram feed will be amazing, and everybody will think you’re the coolest person ever. You tell yourself that relationships matter to you — scheduling drinks, having lunch — but after you’ve had twenty social encounters in a week, you forget what all those encounters are supposed to build to.

“You have thousands of conversations and remember none.”

— David Brooks

The section above punched me square in the face when I read it last week. And this was the knockout blow:

“If you aren’t saying a permanent no to anything, giving anything up, then you probably aren’t diving into anything fully. A life of commitment means saying a thousand no's for the sake of a few precious yeses.”


As David says, political freedom is great. But personal, social, and emotional freedom — when it becomes an ultimate end — stinks. It leads to a busy life with no discernible direction. This isn’t an ocean you want to spend your life in.

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I’m ready for commitment.


Ironically, one of the reasons my girlfriend and I broke up was that I didn’t want to commit. Let me rewind; committing to her was easy. She’s the most amazing woman I’ve ever met, and I still love her. I always will. But committing to a life in another country, far away from home, and settling down to start a family and build a life with someone? It terrified me. And it rubbed up against everything I thought I stood for: Freedom, freedom, freedom.

Ultimately, I don’t regret the 3 years we spent together or even the fact I called things off between us. It was the right decision for us both. But this thing I loathed and turned my nose up at — commitment — is something I might now be ready for.

I’ve had my blowout. I’ve tasted enough freedom to last a lifetime. And now I’m ready for commitment.


Buying my first property is the first step on this road. I’m also launching a writing community soon. One day, I’m confident starting a family will also factor in.

I don’t have all the answers, and weening myself off freedom won’t be easy. But right now, just knowing that I’ve taken freedom off its pedestal is enough.

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Scott Stockdale is a writer with over 1 million views on Medium. His articles have been featured in Start It Up, Better Marketing, Better Humans, and Mind Cafe, among many others.