The Utter Elusiveness of Feeling Completely Free

The joy of being untethered from reality

Judith Victoria
8 min readNov 30, 2022


Photo by Vicko Mozara on Unsplash

As long as I put other peoples' needs first, I don't have to worry about mine.

And now that I'm wandering the streets of a ridiculously photogenic Portuguese village, 2500 km away from home, completely free of other people's needs, I have no idea what to do with mine.

Or, to quote Joker in The Dark Knight:

"I'm like a dog chasing cars; I wouldn't know what to do if I caught one, you know, I just do…things."

I wanted to be free. I wanted time for myself. An empty calendar and no expectations. And now that I have it, I have no idea what to do with it — besides guarding my freedom like a mama grizzly bear protects her cubs.

My phone is on silent, and I have turned off all my app notifications. Every time I get a text from someone asking if I am enjoying my holiday, I feel like I'm getting pulled back to reality. So I mute, block and ignore.

It feels a bit like betrayal because my family and friends are amazing, and I love them dearly — but I don't want to hear from them. They're all home, where reality lives. And I am in paradise, where freedom lives. Maybe it's due to my shortcomings, but I can't combine those two worlds.

If I want to be here, I can't have any contact with there.

There are no words to describe how good it feels to be here. Typing text messages about how much I'm enjoying Portugal feels dirty. It is like talking about what you wished for when you saw a falling star — it must be a secret for it to come true.

And even though I am a writer and I know a whole lot of words, I can't successfully describe what I felt when I was walking down a busy road during sunset and let out a gasp when I suddenly saw the nearly-full moon against the pink sky, playing peekaboo between the leaves of a palm tree.

I am so used to being busy, worried, stressed, and unhappy that this sudden influx of all types of happiness hormones made me giddy.

Like a fool, I stood in the street, smiling at the moon. All my neurons happily firing in unison, making my whole body vibrate with good sensations. At that moment, I…



Judith Victoria

Essays on life, love, and other lousy stuff. Otherworldly flash fiction & romantic short stories. Failing forward. Perpetually amazed.