In Search of Liberty

Selena - Brooklyn, New York
Entered on June 2, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

In The Eagles 1977 hit single “Hotel California” Don Henley poetically sings, “We

are all just prisoners here of our own device.” During adolescent years I

constructed an allegorical prison for myself. My insecurities created the cell. My

self-hatred served as the impenetrable prison walls.

Growing up, I always felt my best was never good enough. I was always too fat,

too stupid, too ugly to ever really appreciate the present. I buried myself in

alcohol, eating disorders and self-hatred. I reveled in my self-inflicted

emotional abuse, relishing each passing moment of despair. I was always too

invested in my own warped world of malcontent to ever really analyze the pain

of those around me.

Retrospectively, I realize growing up in a middle class family, surrounded by

love and attention, allowed me the liberty to create obstacles, mainly because I

had no preexisting reservoir of my own. Like many before me, I could not stand

the notion of absolute freedom. The idea that my destiny was self-determined

was a burden I could not bear.

Shortly after my seventeenth birthday, I got sick. I was spontaneously struck

with a rare neurological disorder that most people know nothing about until a

family member or a friend starts experiencing symptoms. Abruptly, my prison

walls were no longer so indistinct. I felt trapped in my own body with no clear

way out. I was suddenly reliant on others in a way that I had never previously

experienced. Being forcibly stripped of my autonomy allowed for a great deal of

self-reflection. I fixated on my past freedom with unbridled lust. Only when I

was stripped of my independence did I realize how profoundly selfish my

former confines really were.

Throughout my childhood I hid from freedom, choosing rather to escape into

my own repugnant abyss. When it comes down to it, I definitively advocate the

embrace of absolute freedom. I believe that in the long run, our only authentic

restraints are self-imposed. Despite my preexisting emotional and physical

limitations, I realize now that my one sole obligation to my family, my

community, and possibly even more paramount, myself, is to promote a

mandate of liberty within my own life. This unadulterated sense of autonomy is

my true calling.