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It seems to me that freedom is the eternal game of a person with their own realization in the only thing that he truly has – which is still the valid official truth – his own life. Being what you want is not always simple. Living the way you want is difficult and requires courage. The philosophical antechamber and the necessary precondition for both is knowing what you are, because only then desires and intentions are genuine. Everything else is delusion. The path to truth is long, it implies self-discovery and exploration, self-digging, and for that, freedom is necessary. The story of freedom seems to be a story of a labyrinth where some stay at the doors satisfied with being slaves to circumstances, rules, and everything that awaited them at birth.

Some others get lost on that path, in the first round or final third, which puts them in the same position as those who never entered the labyrinth but are separated from them by higher consciousness. They know they were looking for something, they are aware that the essence lies elsewhere and that life depends on man himself. And from his feelings about his own lack of freedom – a wistful acceptance or bitterness of defeat. Only a few, rebels compared to the established framework of the world that awaited them, reach the end – to the full measure of individuality. That, for me, is freedom. Your time in your own hands.

It is not accidental at all that the visual, literary, cinematic, and artistic representation of a free person who has said no to all limitations , from the family relations, over working hours to the expectations of others, always results in the image of an outcast or a hermit. Whether we are talking about Sartre, a philosopher who didn’t like to bathe and, obsessed with the idea of freedom, didn’t do it, or Hemingway’s characters, as much as about himself, or film characters whose brave actions and sudden breaks in their life instantly inspire us to immediately turn our backs on everything and everyone that limits us. It’s not easy because with freedom much is gained and much is lost. That’s why people who are determined to live despite the order, the system, and any prevailing matrix or formula, are always viewed with admiration by those who have stopped halfway through the labyrinth or with suspicion and open contempt by the crowd that allows any order, from the one that dictates when it’s time for lunch to the one that formulates the pattern of success and achievement at any moment in the history of the world. Sometimes they are deeply hated by those who have tried, partially succeeded, and realized that everything beyond that is beyond them.

Therefore, a free person has its place at the bar where willingly spend time, but it doesn’t have its place in the world that lives by the rules of the majority. In that outcast state, in an outsider’s position, discomfort, fear, and sublimity are mixed. And so much responsibility – which is one of the most common reasons to step back from freedom and embrace conformity.

I belong to those who are inspired by free people. I admire them from some kind of my own distance, fully aware of where I am. It seems to me that this knowledge pulls me out of mediocrity. I know, but I still cannot embark on the journey to the end. I don’t believe I will ever join the few – those exclusive individuals with a unique experience of freedom. Those who have succeeded. Do not let banal representations of freedom deceive you. Not every person who lives alone is free. Not every open relationship is free. Freelancing does not mean freedom. Just as promiscuity doesn’t. Freedom is the question of all questions. Complete self-awareness is the moment when one can decide between freedom and acceptance, on independence and exposure or comfort as a pleasant form of slavery. From the moment we are born, we form connections, or in Sartre’s terminology: we break the shell and enter among people, we become “a person among people,” and that is necessarily a space of limitation. And the journey to self-knowledge is long, filled with odyssey-like trials. That’s why hermits always have wrinkles and gray hair.

Milan Nikolić / Belgrade

Philologist, journalist and author on Insider TV.

Almost two decades in the media as an author, columnist, editor and blogger.

On social networks under his own name.

He used to like to introduce himself at length. Today, he allows those interested in him to find it all online.

All images and materials are copyright protected and are the property of Mr. Milan Nikolić and

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