the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

  Authors & Artists


Faces & Voices 4
Faces & Voices 5

A Happy Medium
Erika McDaniel
Maumee, Ohio - Marketing

“I want my freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom, mmm hmm.”
-C-Murder “Freedom”

        I have always reached out for freedom, yet, for eighteen years it has seemed to eldude my grasp. Whenever I thought I finally had a grip on freedom, it managed to slip through my fingers before I could hold on tightly enough to keep it. I spent years chasing it, attempting to acquire it by any possible means – trickery, cunningness, or even outright stealing it. I have flirted with freedom a few times. I’ve taken a few trips without my parents, but I still had adult supervision. I had a part-time job and made my own money, but my parents still made me save part of my paychecks. I even had a driver’s license and my own car; of course my parents gave me a cell phone so they could check on me at all times. Freedom was downright unattainable. On August 20, 2001, when I least expected it, freedom was dropped into my lap. That would be the last time in months that I saw my parents, and the last time they could ever really tell me what to or not to do. With a final “be good” from my mother and a kiss from my father, I turned and stared freedom right in the face.
        It is now two months since that day, and how I wish I had evaded freedom for just a little while longer. I am responsible for my own decisions and actions. If I make the wrong decision I have no one, under any circumstance, to blame but myself. Frankly, that’s just it; my decisions are my decisions. If I make the wrong decision, I no longer have to answer to my mother and father. They can no longer punish me if I come in late, or if I don’t clean my room; they can’t punish me for anything. If I decide not to tell them, they would not even know if I came in at an unreasonable hour or did not clean my room. For the first time in my life I can do what I want, when I want, how I want to do it.
        Freedom is defined by the Webster’s Dictionary as “the condition or state of being free; independence . . . unrestricted access or use. The trick to my survival at Howard is finding a “happy medium” between using my freedom to my advantage and taking advantage of my freedom. Just because I have unrestricted use of my freedom does not mean I should use it without restriction. There is a fine line between the two. Using freedom to my advantage would be to schedule all of my classes after eleven in the morning because I know I have trouble waking up, and I do my best work between tweleve and four in the afternoon. Taking advantage would be not showing up to class everyday because, “technically,” I do not have to. With my newfound freedom came newfound responsibility. I spent so much time daydreaming about my freedom that it never occurred to me that I would have to be more responsible.
        My most challenging responsibility is managing money. In high school nobody taught me how to manage money and keep it throughout an entire week. In college I have learned, quickly, that if I cannot hold money throughout the week I must find a creative way to get money on the weekend. I have also learned that every sale at Pentagon City is not an emergency, pizza three nights a week is not a necessity (or healthy), and it is easier to save my money then to hunt for it when I really, truly need it.
        College is all about change, adjustment, and freedom. Living away from home for the first time is a big change. I don’t have my parents around to punish me, or to run to when I get into trouble. I have to adjust to living on my own without my family. I finally have the freedom I spent so much time chasing.

© 2002 Howard University
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse, Prose & Art, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2002. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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