I grew up hearing stories of children breaking free from their cage-like nests, thanks to Disney. I always empathized with Princess Jasmine, who dreamt of abandoning her controlled palace life for adventures and the ability to marry whomever she chooses. Though I’m not being forced into marriage anytime soon, I could relate to being locked up in the house for… well, the first eighteen years of my life, wondering what was out there and why the universe gave me a sheltering father whose fears could evidently become my own.
From an early age, I had to adapt to tossing little white lies towards my friends on why I had to miss birthday parties and sleepovers, feeling heavy inside knowing I wasn’t allowed to go to them. I’d confess my desires to my mother: to just be a normal girl for one day to be trusted with myself without parental supervision 24/7. Forced to only play the good cop, she’d pat my shoulder and tell me to just be patient until I was a little older. As I bit my tongue throughout middle school, I’ll admit I was granted some rights. Although my parents opened some windows for me, there were plenty of doors that I longed to unlock. I walked through my high school days expecting the glorious day when the chains would finally fall from my ankles, and that I could begin to make my own decisions. That day never came. Now that I’m eighteen and out of school, its no longer frustrating that I still have ridiculous restrictions – its exasperating and iniquitous (or at least through my eyes, it is). I recently viewed a Steve Harvey episode about overprotective and controlling parents, and I would chuckle bitterly to myself as I watched what resembled my own predicament radiate from the screen.
“You have to allow your kids to be free,” Steve Harvey wagged his finger, “before they break free – because those are two very different things.” As the audience cheered and clapped in consent, I allowed a familiar comfort in the back of my mind to resurface. My friends, my boyfriend, even my own mother would try and encourage me to speak up for myself to seek the justice I long deserve. For insecure reasons, I’d succumb to play the loyalty card by keeping my mouth shut. But what Mr. Harvey said that day sparked something empowering inside me. The real lawgiver that I suffered under – was really myself.
To break free, or to fantasize of being free: that is the question.