Close your eyes and think “freedom.”

Did you get a picture of angelic beings slowly and gracefully leaping into the air before a bright blue sky?

Or did you get a glimpse of yourself vacationing on a sandy beach with a margarita in hand and “Everyday We Lit” bumping in the background?

Whatever image you conjured, it’s important for us to recognize the difference between what freedom looks like and the actual process of gaining that freedom. Acknowledging that freedom comes with a cost is essential because it helps us realize that absolute freedom is not possible without making sacrifices. Freedom doesn’t just show up at your doorstep. You actually have to work for it. 

it’s important for us to recognize the difference between what freedom looks like and the actual process of gaining that freedom.

While throwing it in a circle at a rooftop party with a group of people shouting “Aaayyyyyyeeee” might be your idea of freedom (okay, this is all me), I want you to keep in mind that freedom comes at the cost of creating boundaries in your life.

That’s right.
Boundaries = Freedom.

I know you probably didn’t pick this equation up in Algebra 1, but with real life experiences, making the SAME dumb mistakes a hundred times, and self-realization, I finally put two and two together: In order for me to be free, I have to create boundaries for myself and the people around me.

This article is composed of three possible questions you could and should have at this point. But don’t trip. That’s what I’m here for! I’ll be tackling those questions one by one to get you on your way to sufficient self-love and freedom sooner than you thought possible.

1. So, how do I know that I need to have boundaries?

You know you need to set some boundaries when you’ve gotten caught up in the same bad situation more than once. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, can’t put the blame on you.” Y’all know what J. Cole was getting at! If you’ve allowed yourself to repeat a behavior more than once, and both times it’s rendered unfortunate results, it’s time to make a change!

When my mom passed away, I found myself in a very vulnerable state. Previously, I hadn’t been involved with anyone for personal reasons, but because I needed as much support and love (whether real or fake) I could get, I was willing to let my guard down with this one. I quickly became involved with a high school friend. To keep it short, I ended up falling in love with this man who didn’t feel the same way about me. Crushed, I was forced to live through my depression and move forward with life without him.

Most recently, I ran into the same situation, where I was in a vulnerable position and needed support. I met an amazing man whose personality was a dream to me and immediately began to imagine him as my husband one day. Needless to say, he ended up spilling the beans that he was just not that interested. I was forced, again, to cry it out and move on with life without him.

In this case, I had every right to be upset with the first man. I was in a situation where I really didn’t have much control over my emotions. But the second time around, I should’ve taken heed to what I had learned before and saved my tears. The mistake I made was assuming that because both of these men were gentle, kind and compassionate, they were in love with me. I allowed my vulnerability to get the best of me, and took their kindness as a sign of intimacy. I allowed them to toy with my emotions and leave me in a state of disappointment and loneliness.

Instead of assuming they wanted me as a partner, I should have set boundaries on what I allowed them to do and how much energy I put into the relationship. I should have kept them at the distance of a friend until I was sure about our relationship. Ignoring late night phone calls, not allowing late night visits and decreasing the amount of time I spent with each of them would have all been ways to set necessary boundaries for myself to be free from heartbreak, loneliness and depression.

As a result, whenever I meet a man, I never assume that he wants to pursue a relationship with me unless he says so out of his own mouth. I no longer allow them to call me or to come visit during what I call “thot hours.” I also don’t put nearly as much time or effort into them as I would before. Nowadays, I prioritize my own goals and spend time with a man after I have finished my own obligations.

2. What kind of boundaries do I need?

The types of boundaries you need to create for your life are completely up to you. It depends on what your specific situation is. Do you need to block the guy who texts you at 2am every weekend saying, “Let’s link?” Do you need to tell your manipulating friend that he can’t use your car without putting gas in it? Or do you need to create more serious, life-changing boundaries, like incorporating a healthy diet into your lifestyle so that you won’t continue to risk your well-being for foods that don’t do you any good? Whatever it is, we all have something we could put a halt to that will get us a step closer to the freedom that we deserve.

3. How do you create boundaries?

The first thing you need to do when it comes to creating those boundaries is sit down and evaluate your life. Do you deal with people who pretend to be but really aren’t in your corner? Maybe you’ve been to the doctor and are at risk of disease if you don’t change up your lifestyle. Are you stuck in the same types of jobs which lead you to be unhappy with your career? There are so many different areas of our lives that need boundaries. When you identify which areas of your life need this attention, it is your job to do some digging and figure out why the situation ends up at its worst. Who is the person causing it to come to shambles? What is the direct action that causes this misfortune? When you find this out, you will know exactly which boundary to create and to whom it pertains.

Here’s an example of my boundary according to my past experiences I’ve told you about:

“I will no longer assume that a man wants me unless he shows me.”

When you have evaluated, identified, and dug into what your problem is, write out or say an affirmation out loud to seal the deal with yourself that you will no longer allow this thing to put limits on your freedom.

Only when we begin to take care of ourselves by setting boundaries will we be able to truly walk in the freedom of loving us.

Wishing you the best freedom possible,