A Problem with Control and Freedom

From childhood, Jon was considered to be someone who would go far.

He was an intelligent young man at school, which was remarkable because his parents didn’t appear to be anything like him when it came to intellect. They were hard-working people, though and endeavoured to see their son adopt that key value.

This explains why to all outward perceptions he excelled. Not only did he do well in his academic results, he was also recognised in his school as the head boy. He was seen as a role model of behaviour and conduct in the school. Teachers were impressed by his considered approach and his peers felt he was approachable. When anyone spoke to him, they found someone who would listen carefully to another and express clearly and assertively the importance of people being free to make their own choices and live their own lives in respect and honour.

It was no surprise that Jon made it one of the top universities in the country. Likewise it was no surprise that before too long he was emerging as a student of quality both in the studies and in student life outside. He joined several societies and he was touted to be the material to be President of a number of those societies. He initiated and supported campaigns for students to get better treatment in the campus and have a greater say in the life of the university. His ability to influence change and make progress amazed and intrigued some of the administrators in the university, because he was confident and assertive without being rude or aggressive. He was charm personified a lot of the time, even when he was making a point that put pressure on those he addressed.

As he graduated with the highest honours many of his peers saw him as the type to exemplify the benefits of a life of autonomy and freedom.

The presentation was good and there was definitely a strong sense of well-meaning. Behind that, however, there were severe struggles going on. He had fallen into the habit in the last years before university. At first it was just something he found fascinating. When he was introduced to it, it didn’t appear that harmful at all. It was thrilling and gratifying. No one was affected by him doing it and he was in control. Whenever he felt it was going a bit too far, he would bring it back in and take a break from it at times. He didn’t see the need to tell anyone else about it at the time because he felt he was in control.

As expectations increased in his life and he rose to various positions of responsibility he felt the pressure to succeed all the more and needed an outlet. That habit provided it for him. He was in control, he thought, and no one would being hurt. In fact, he had worked out that as long as he got that release through cultivating that habit it seemed to give him a bounce in his step. He could handle the pressure. He could continue to excel.

Little realising that in as much as he felt he had control over it, the truth was it had a growing control over him. By the time he left university to take up a role at a high flying company impressed by his credentials and references the cracks were beginning to show. Not enough to put them off him, because he kept the smile, he kept on working hard and he kept on showing what it was to be in control of your own destiny.

He was making his way through the ranks, but the more he climbed, the more pained the smile appeared. He was alright though, he reassured his colleagues. He had it under control. He wasn’t doing so well in terms of intimate relationships because his girlfriends found he was too driven and focused to give them sufficient time, especially as they got a little hint at his habits he said he had under control.

As his late thirties loomed so did a major crossroads in his life. There was no question of his work ethic and the material and professional success in his life. There was a growing question as to who really ruled his life.

And then …

(Photo by Sanjeevan SatheesKumar on Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake


C. L. J. Dryden


One thought on “A Problem with Control and Freedom

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