To be free or to be safe: Challenge yourself

The views expressed in the following article are the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Newswire staff as a whole.

If you had to pick, which would you choose: being free or being safe? I am fairly certain that a pretty good number would have different answers. After all, I think we can all agree that they are both good things. We like to be free and make our own decisions, and we like to be safe from harm.

Personally, I would choose freedom over safety if given the choice. In part, it’s because I like knowing that when I choose something, the consequences of that choice are something that I’m responsible for, whether they’re good or bad. It’s also partially because I want to become the best individual that I can be, and safety doesn’t allow for that at all.

I’m all for safety precautions that make sense — wearing a helmet when you ride a bike or trying not to walk by yourself late at night. There are plenty of safety precautions that make total sense and should be actively encouraged. Those are entirely separate from the type of safety that I mean when I say safety doesn’t allow for the betterment of the individual.

I’ve written previously about how thankful I was to come to the realization that a number of the problems that I faced in my life were, in some way, my own fault. It’s a sobering realization and one that I only came to after a number of pretty poor decisions, bad ideas and flawed resolutions. I’ve been trying to be better because I don’t want to make those same mistakes again, especially when I’ll be thrust into the real world in a few months.

If I were to be safely insulated from the consequences of my actions up until graduation, at which point I would be ostensibly on my own, then I would likely fail. Failure in college can certainly cause some changes in your life, but failure in the real world? That could mean losing a job or losing out on a new opportunity.

The reason I’m emphasizing freedom so much in this article is because that’s really the better option. Safety is a good option, but you only get safety when you give up some freedom. The same is true the opposite way: More freedom means less safety. Yet, the sacrifice of safety is much more worthwhile than the sacrifice of freedom.

How so? When you give up freedom to gain safety, safety is all you gain. Meanwhile, you lose the freedom to make real and impactful choices. You are instead stuck in a bubble of stagnancy where you will be forever the same. But by giving up safety, you unlock a massive potential that will utterly change your life.

I’m not going to lie about the fact that those changes could be bad. If you have been kept safe and sedated most of your life, you’ll probably make some poor decisions at first.

That’s how you learn to be better. It’s why freedom is so important early on when we’re growing up. We have to learn from our own mistakes before the consequences are large enough to permanently hamper us if things go wrong.

So take advantage of the freedom you have to explore and understand yourself now in a place where the consequences aren’t overly significant. Sure, you might screw up and you might get hurt, but you might be challenged like never before. It’s equally possible that you could discover a new passion, learn a new skillset or build new and lasting friendships.

This is the burden — and gift — of freedom: to have unbelievable success and to become a better person must be as possible as the opposite in order for you to achieve the former. It’s far better to risk that now than sometime later when you have the burdens of life in the real world weighing down your launch to success.

Colin Lang is a senior history and Philosophy, Politics and the Public double major. He is a staff writer for the Newswire from Westlake, Ohio.